That was the real life story of writer Mark O’Brien who was paralyzed from the neck down by polio since childhood. He’s played flawlessly in THE SESSIONS by John Hawkes of WINTER’S BONE fame.
By the age of 38 the need for physical sex had become overwhelming for Mark. He just had to experience it before death come knocking—which could be any day.
What would he do and how would he justify it with his Catholic upbringing?
Several trips with caretakers wheeling him into the church for sessions of advice and confession with new priest William H. Macy finally prompt him to take action. Mark engages the services of sex therapist—or better, sex surrogate—Helen Hunt who is no nonsense about her job and her willingness to fulfill Mark’s desires.
After all, she’s also a wife and a mother.
So don’t confuse Hunt’s character with a prostitute even though she provides everything from initial foreplay and stimulation to full intercourse. Six sessions maximum. That’s all she offers per client.
That’s due primarily to the great acting abilities of John Hawkes who pulls it all off strictly with his face while lying flat on his back through the entire picture. His expressions. His witty dialogue. His outlook on life.
Look for a possible Oscar nomination for his challenging performance here.
And Helen Hunt. We’ve never seen her like this before. ALL OF HER. Complete frontal and rear nudity by the sex surrogate.
Come to think of it, I’d happily subscribe to her treatments.
And William H. Macy keeping it real as the flexible priest who offers new wave moral guidance and breaking down our patient’s barriers while puffing on the cancer sticks and sipping on sinful fire water.
THE SESSIONS not only won this year’s audience award at the Sundance Film Festival but was also honored with a special jury prize for ensemble acting.
The Ben Lewin directed moving true-life story, opening limited in K.C. this weekend, also features Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks and Rhea Perlman.
It achieves 3-1/2 out of 5 stimulating fingers.
JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES Friday mornings on KMBZ Fm & Am / Also on Time-Warner Cable’s K.C. ON DEMAND, Channel 411 / And throughout Nebraska on NEBRASKA ON DEMAND.