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