Friday, March 22, 2013

MOVIE WEEKEND: THE SESSIONS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present for your consideration a movie I love, The Sessions (2012, Rated R, recently available on DVD).



Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a writer and a poet, had polio when he was six years old. Now he's 38, it's the 1980s, O'Brien spends most of his time trapped in an iron lung so he can breathe, and he wants to lose his virginity.

With the encouragement of an understanding priest played by William H. Macy, O'Brien seeks the aid of a sexual surrogate named Cheryl Cohen-Greene (Helen Hunt), who takes him on a journey through sexuality without pitying him or treating him as if his disability is anything unusual (O'Brien can leave the iron lung for a few hours at a time and breathe with a respirator, but his spine is crooked, making the position of his body somewhat unusual). 

(Father Brendan: [speaking about Mark's decision to find a sex surrogate] I have a feeling that God is going to give you a free pass on this one. Go for it.)

Mark develops feelings for Cheryl and writes a poem to her, which angers her husband (Adam Arkin). Cheryl tries to treat Mark as she would any other client, but eventually, she begins to feel love for him in return.

What's a sex surrogate to do?

The Sessions is based on an article written for a magazine by the real Mark O'Brien in 1990. He passed away in 1999.

Watching it made me wish I had met the man. I know The Sessions is just a movie, but if Mark O'Brien was anything at all like his character in the movie, then he had a wry sense of humor, a delicious curiosity about life, and a great mind. 

This movie is tender and funny and poignant and everything one wants in a movie. The cast is excellent. Helen Hunt was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role as Cheryl.

I've been a Helen Hunt fan for many years. I never watched the sit-com she was in that was so popular (Mad About You), but I adored her way back when she was on a TV favorite of mine, the medical drama St. Elsewhere. She deserved her nomination, but I think John Hawkes should have received a Best Actor nod as well. His character is a man who longs to experience love in all ways, and Hawkes plays the part so well.

The Sessions has The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval.


This movie has graphic nudity and frank discussions of sexuality, so it's not for children; but it is not pornographic in any way. Dee, I think you will like this one.

I wish you all a beautiful weekend.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Joan: [pushing his gurney] Would you mind if I asked you a favor? 
Mark O'Brien: What, you need help moving furniture?

26 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting. I liked her in As Good as it Gets. I'm plowing through Veronica Mars, but I'll queue it up.

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    1. I really like As Good As It Gets, too.

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  2. This was an amazing movie, and Helen Hunt is not only a terrific actress, but extremely brave!

    Enjoyed your review~

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    1. Yeah, she really put everything out there, so to speak.

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  3. I would love to see this movie! Great review!

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    1. I hope you see it and like it as much as I did.

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  4. Hi Janie .. funnily enough the Film Society have brought the film down for a special showing here in Eastbourne - next Wednesday .. so I'll be going to see it ... so pleased to have read your take on it ..

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. I've probably said this before, but oh, how I wish I had a film society to join.

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  5. Great review! I like Helen Hunt, too. I'll add this movie to my list (which is getting rather long!)

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    1. My list is so long that at my age, I'll never see all the movies on it.

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  6. It's so great to get your opinion on all these films. Before my husband retired and moved up here, I had no TV and used to watch movies all the time. I have to get back to it as there are so many good ones out right now. Thanks for this.

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    1. You can't imagine how good it makes me feel that people respect my opinions about movies. I took classes on film reviewing and film technique in college. They were really fun.

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  7. This movie reeeeally sounds good. Chelsea Handler was talking about it on her show a while back, and it sounded interesting then, but now, golly with your seal of approval, it's gotta move on up to "must see" status.

    Happy weekend, kiddo.

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    1. Wow! I love it that my seal of approval is so important. I'm sure no one would ever see a movie again if I didn't give my approval.

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  8. I think you should be a professional film reviewer. Does your local paper have one? You should see. Then you will see movies for free, right?

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    1. I don't even subscribe to the local paper because it's so bad. I think I'll just continue watching my DVDs and review whatever I want, but thank you for saying I should do this professionally.

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  9. I have heard about this movie Janie and saw that Helen Hunt was nominated for her role. It is one I would like to see especially after your great review. Thanks for this and hoping your weekend is going well.
    Jim

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    1. I hope you get to see it, Jim. We're having a rainy weekend, but that's okay.

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  10. Great review I havn't seen a movie in a bloody long time........

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  11. Dear Janie, thanks for the nod my way! I do plan on seeing this movie. I so enjoyed Helen Hunt in "Mad About You" and "St. Elsewhere" is one of my all-time favorite television programs.

    These words of yours--"a wry sense of humor, a delicious curiosity about life, and a great mind"-- really struck me. A good friend of mine for the past 35 years died last Saturday of lung cancer. He was always a gentle man with that wry sense of humor and that curiosity about life and that great mind that you say Mark O'Brien had. Jim touched my life with only gentleness and goodness. I feel so blessed that he chose me as a friend. Peace.

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  12. Sounds wonderful. I'm a Helen Hunt fan too.

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    1. I want to be Helen Hunt -- just for a day. Just to know what it feels like to be that pretty and to speak with that extremely cool voice.

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