The Superbowl may be over with this year, but we still have the Academy Awards to look forward to. Sure, they may be two very distinct and different things, but essentially, we do the same thing for both. We pick a team, and root for them throughout. Among the extensive grab bag of Oscar nominees is “The Sessions”. Is this nomination enough to win an award on the twenty-fourth? It depends on who you are.
John Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien in this true story about a man practically paralyzed and imprisoned in a machine that helps him breathe called the iron lung. He was told long ago that he was supposed to die at a much younger age, but at the age of thirty-eight, the reality of his life ending seems to be more true than not and his reflection of life is starting to be diminishing his self-confidence. As a virgin, and as a practically helpless individual, he wants to at least experience losing his virginity, and he asks Father Brendan (William H. Macy) if it would be a sin to hire a sex surrogate in order to do so. The priest seems reluctant, but thinks God would give him a free pass after hearing his story. So Mark hires Cheryl (Helen Hunt), a middle-aged sex surrogate that helps him achieve one of his last goals on his bucket list.
There is no escaping it; this movie is graphic, in more ways than one. Not only is it graphic in its nudity, but it is also graphic in the dialogue. This film will never be shown on television unless the station playing it was a paid channel like HBO or Showtime. However, it is in very good taste. Everything that is graphic about the movie can be seen as beautiful if the viewer watching it is mature and can take a movie like this seriously. Many people may argue that the same story can be told without the nudity or the extent of the dialogue, but its blunt nature is really what makes the movie solid. It is very real and honest about itself, and you can tell there is an extreme amount of confidence in not only the actors’ faces, but also the filmmakers who worked on the film. This is a professional film, and should only be seen as such.
This is a story of human connection and interaction. Sexuality has a huge role to play in the movie, sure, but sexuality isn’t something we should cower away from. It is a natural part of the human psyche, and a natural desire to want, especially if one is about to die in the unforeseen future. Too many movies either ignore sexuality or they use it distastefully, “The Sessions” really brings out the reality of how sexuality should be in its most sincere light. Will it offend people, yes it probably will, but it shouldn’t.
It is also a true story, which heightens the level of realism that the film already conveyed. Sometimes true stories don’t have the best plots, or have character-driven stories, but this one had a clear goal from Mark, and that was to gain self-confidence and lose his virginity before he dies, and the connections he makes along the way are just too pure to ignore.
John Hawkes was phenomenal in the movie when it came to acting. You really feel as if he truly was in this position and that this was about him rather than this Mark fellow he is portraying. William H. Macy was also very good, even though his character did little in the movie, he played an important role. Helen Hunt was also incredibly professional with her role, and she was able to play a very human and caring person for this film. The acting was great across the board here. Not only was the acting great, but the writing was also unbelievable, some of the dialogue spoken in the movie feel real, not rehearsed, and for a lot of viewers, the movie may touch them.
Overall, this really is a beautiful film that captures a subject that isn’t always spoken about in movies for fear of criticism or offending others. This film remained true to itself, and didn’t care what others thought about it, which I truly believe helped them receive a nomination for Helen Hunt’s performance. You just need to watch the film with an open mind and mature mindset, and you will enjoy “The Sessions” when it comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Feb. 12!