If you’re not in the mood for a presidential biopic or a movie about teenage vampires then try this terrific romantic comedy. The Sessions had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and was also the closing night film at the Milwaukee Film Festival last month.
The Sessions is based on the true story of Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a poet who after getting polio as a child needs to be in an iron lung. He is able to spend about four hours a day outside the iron lung but must have an assistant push him around on a gurney. He spends most of his time outside at a church, where he becomes friends with Father Brendan (William H. Macy).
After he gets an assignment to write about sex and the disabled, he decides at the age of 36 it is time to lose his virginity. Someone recommends he uses a sex surrogate named Cheryl (Helen Hunt). Cheryl takes his case and teaches him that even though he is disabled he can still be intimate. As with most times when sex is involved, their relationship gets complicated. Cheryl tells Mark that the maximum number of sessions is six, but the emotional connection between the two makes it more difficult than even she thought.
The movie is not your typical romantic comedy. It's really funny and emotional but has some unusual twists and turns. Mark O'Brien's sense of humor about his situation keeps the movie light even as he struggles to fill the void he has in his life.
John Hawkes gives an amazing performance and it is one that might finally get him the recognition he deserves after giving great performances in Winters Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene. He makes you forget that Mark is physically disabled and makes you focus on his emotional vulnerability and his great sense of humor. Helen Hunt gives another great performance on par with her Oscar winning performance in As Good as it Gets and William H. Macy is great as usual.
Lots of Oscar talk for this picture and hope it scores some nominations especially for the performances.
The movie is opening this weekend at the Oriental Theatre be sure to check it out
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