Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Sessions

      Helen Hunt and John Hawkes star in an unconventional story of love based on the real life of crippled polio victim, Mark O'Brien. When Mark (played by Mr. Hawkes) decides to discover his sexuality (with the blessing of his priest, played by William H. Macy), he enlists the help of a sex surrogate to help him achieve his goal. Away from the big screen for a while, Ms. Hunt has chosen a daring performance for her return. As surrogate, Cheryl, Ms. Hunt has scenes of full frontal nudity and intimate interaction with Mr. Hawkes.

      The film is billed as a drama/comedy and while there are a few humorous scenes (mostly involving Mr. Macy's conflicted priest), it is most definitely a drama that is both touching and uplifting. As a surrogate, Cheryl must remain unemotional with her clients but Mark's unwavering spirit and poetic nature slowly wins her over. However, this is not a typical story of two people falling in love. It is more about the nature of love itself among all the characters. Besides Mr. Macy the film also features Moon Bloodgood as Mark's aide and Adam Arkin as Cheryl's husband. The relationships among all these people are forever changed when Mark begins his "sessions".

       While Ms. Hunt gives a wonderful performance, it is clearly Mr. Hawkes that shines in a remarkable role. When not in an iron lung, he is either lying prone on a gurney or lying in a bed. He has a body that has failed him. As he explains, his is not paralyzed, it's just that his muscles don't work so well. He  conveys his inner thoughts in voice-over and a full emotional range with just his face. And yet, this physical shell of a man still has the capacity to discover his sexuality and his scenes with Ms. Hunt are so honest and tender, it's difficult not to be moved.

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