Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Sessions

This morning I saw The Sessions, starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt.

Mark O'Brien (Hawkes) is disabled from childhood polio and lives most of his life inside of an iron lung. Despite this confinement, he is an accomplished poet with a sense of humor and a desire to enjoy normal things.

When he reaches the age of 38, he decides that he would like to pursue losing his virginity.

As a devout Catholic, he wrestles with the sin of premarital sex, and consults with his priest to see if he can "get a pass," since the chances of him marrying are slim to none. The priest grants him his blessing and soon he seeks the help of sexual surrogate named Cheryl (Hunt).

Cheryl does her best to communicate the boundaries of her role to Mark, but that doesn't stop him from developing a crush on her. After all, he's never been this intimate physically or emotionally with a woman before.

Their sessions to teach him about his sexuality are clinical, yet tender; mechanical, yet arousing. Most people probably don't even know that folks like Cheryl exist (and this, after all, is a true story).

Hawkes is phenomenal as the vulnerable, sweet, scared Mark, who wrestles with so many issues, you wonder if he'll ever be able to give his heart (and body) to any woman; Hunt is equally impressive as a matter-of-fact doctor of sorts, who is brimming with compassion.

This movie is far better than most films in theaters today. The dialogue is witty (and dangerously close to how it really happened, when compared with O'Brien's actual article on the topic); the revealing scenes are treated respectfully and tastefully while not being too sanitized.

It will surprise me if *The Sessions* doesn't receive multiple Oscar nominations, as it deserves several.

Go see it.


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