Posts Tagged ‘mark o’brien

24
Aug
12

The Sessions (dir. Ben Lewin)

Synopsis:  A 38 year old paralyzed man who wishes to lose his virginity contacts his therapist and priest in order to help him find a sex surrogate.

Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H Macy

Release: October 26th

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, The Sessions was one of Sundance’s biggest hits (along with Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was talked about in one of my previous posts).  In particular, the film has been praised for its acting performances and emotional grip that it maintains with the audience throughout the film. I’ll keep this post short, since I don’t know much about this film myself . Regardless, heres what i think.

Based on a true story, Mark O’Brien was a poet and paralyzed polio survivor who had been confined to his iron lung for twenty years. At the age of 38, he finally confronted his priet and therapist, in order to hire a sex surrogate for himself (..as he is  still a virgin due to his physical limitations). During O’Brien’s sessions, he wrote about his experiences in an article and he eventually wrote a book titled How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence.

In the film adaptation of O’Brien’s journey to lose his virginity, Ben Lewin serves as the director in this light-hearted comedy.  John Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien,  William H. Macy plays his priest/therapist  and Helen Hunt plays the sex surrogate.

Now, some people might be wondering, who the hell is John Hawkes? Some may know of him but for then most part, he’s gone unnoticed for many viewers and critics- Until the past two years. In 2010, he played a meth addict in Winter’s Bone and in 2011, he played an antagonizing cult leader in Martha Mary May Marlene. Both performances were regarded as pyschologically dark and gritty, resulting in an Oscar nomination for his work in Winter’s Bone.

This is one of these films where you really have to appreciate the actor’s performance. I’ve always given a higher level of respect for actors who play mentally or physically impaired characters. Hawkes plays someone who is paralyzed from the neck down, which means he is physically limited when it comes to conveying actions and emotions. 

That being said, from an emotional perspective,  Hawke’s portrayal will  draw the audience in, as we catch an inside glimpse of what it is like to be a man who is able to shine through life, despite his limitations.  The only missing link is his ultimate desire to know what it is like to be with a woman. On that note, It’ll explore the way in which sex is with a doubt, part of humanity and can ultimately help us explore who we are. That doesn’t mean it’ll just be about having sex- It’ll also explore the intimate connection that can occur between human beings, no matter how different they are.

Concluding thought– Just because I mentioned Hawke’s peformance doesn’t mean I won’t be considering Helen Hunt and William H. Macy’s performances. Both are fine actors and I’m hoping to see some great chemistry between all of them in this film.

If your interested, here’s a link to John Hawke’s IMDB page.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0370035/

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