Directed by Ben Lewin
Screenplay by Ben Lewin
Based on the article, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate" by Mark O'Brien
Stars: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Rhea Perlman, Adam Arkin, Annika Marks, W. Earl Brown and Robin Weiger
The first mention of this movie was tied to my seeing Killer Joe at the Landmark Theater when a trailer of it came out. Then, that was it. No mention about when it was coming out. Nothing was said until award season came around with John Hawkes and Helen Hunt getting some love. It was kismet that I am reviewing this movie on Single's Awareness Day. It is a touching story that I didn't want to end.
This is not the first time that Mark O'Brien's story was tossed about during award season. Back in 1996, Jessica Yu made the documentary, Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien that went on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject the next year. It was surprised that another aspect of Mark's life went into the national consciousnesses.
The Sessions is based on the article that Mark O'Brien wrote when he was questioning if he could feel any connection with another human being. Mark portrayed by John Hawkes is stricken with polio and is confined to an iron lung for most of his waking hours. He comtemplates what God has in store for him. Due to his Catholic umbrining he has a traditional way of looking at sex. He turns to the new priest of the church he goes to, Father Brendan (Macy) about God's take on him losing his virginity. After giving his blessing, Mark gets in touch with a sex surrogate named Cheryl played by Oscar nominee Helen Hunt that will help him lower his guard to devirginize him over a period of six sessions.
The Sessions flew under the radar for me so long that I didn't know that it was coming out on DVD until last Tuesday. Wow. Watching the trailer I thought the movie would be a comedy. The movie turns out to be a very heartfelt dramedy. It's a simple about a man that wanted to feel that connection with another human being. That's what all humans want connection.
Mark O'Brien is a human being that wanted to be treated like anybody else even though he had condition that left him in an iron lung. A fasicinating person to know, even in a ficitionalized matter. I believe that it was John Hawkes subtle performance that made me fall in love with Mark, and want to get to know him more. Helen Hunt was nuanced in her portyral in this movie. I have never heard of a sex surrogate before watching this movie. All the questions I had about her line of work were answered for me. She is not a prositute. She helps physically disabled men fulfill a basic human need.