Let’s Talk: “The Sessions” a Delightful Take on Intimacy


For anyone who wants to watch a lightheared and comical alternative to all the serious minded fair that invades theaters this time of year, I have a welcoming recommendation. Go out of your way to find the limited release feature “The Sessions.” Directed by Ben Lewin, the Sundance award winner captivates audiences that will fall under its spell. Based on the autobiographical writings of California journalist/poet Mark O’Brien, “The Sessions” tells the story of a charming and funny man encased in an iron lung. He desperately wants to lose his virginity at his older age of 38. Conflicted with his , he seeks the guidance of his Catholic priest Father Brendan (William H. Macy), he sets out to his fantasy and deepest desire come to life. Then walks in his life Cheryl (Helen Hunt) a sex surrogate who teaches him everything he wanted to know and give him everything he wanted to experience.


In “The Sessions,” we watch how Mark lives his life dependent on others, yet isolated by so many individuals that are surrounded in his life. People seem to not understand his plight nor want to get to know him for that manner. John Hawkes is in a similar situation as Daniel Day Lewis in “My Left Foot”…only he cant even move his foot let alone the rest of his body. Helen Hunt, so luminous here, is his sex therapist teaching him what he wants to experience: sex. They share wonderful chemistry together speaking into each others lives as they do this. Even though there’s a lot of sexual content and graphic nudity, “The Sessions” put its audience in a vulnerable position as the issues of intimacy and connections are explored and defined. Most mainstream features avoid this topic and cop out with superficiality. “The Sessions” goes right to the G-Spot.


What I really loved about “The Sessions” was how the characters struggled with the teachings of their faith. Mark is a devout Catholic and wants to live for the teachings of his church. Cheryl is converting to Judaism, but is hesitant to join due to being trapped in the various rites. They want so much more out of life, yet feel trapped by the bondage of doctrine. They get to freely express themselves with their encounters. There’s a lot to think about within these moments. As we get to know these characters, the more we sympathize with their desires and fears. The strength of “The Session” is both the characters and the acting. Honestly, this is the time of year for awards season. The performances from Hawkes, Hunt, and even Macy in this small feature are o exceptional that it could cross over into the Academy’s radar. Keep an eye on them! What we have here is a lighthearted awards contender that’s enjoyable to watch. Such a novel concept



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