The Sessions (2012)
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Outstanding! Mark O'Brien was/is an amazing and inspirational guy. Truly the definition of never giving up no matter your circumstances. On another note, how was John Hawkes's performance in this film ignored by the Academy? Helen Hunt's recognition was well deserved, but Mr Hawkes's performance truly moved me.
The first I heard about "The Sessions" before it received it's short UK cinema run was that John Hawkes was thought to be a dead cert for another acting nomination at this year's Oscars for his performance but had ended up being snubbed completely, which caused something of a fuss. I've considered myself a fan of Hawkes since "Me, You and Everyone We Know", cemented by a pair of astonishing, unsettling performances in "Winter's Bone" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" so I needed no excuse to catch his latest venture.
He pulls the rug from under the feet of his audience once again playing Mark O'Brien, a real writer and journalist who was paralysed from the neck down after contracting polio as a child, and a character as far removed from Teardrop Dolly or cult leader Patrick as you can get. Hawkes radiates pure heartedness, humour and intelligence in a performance that depends entirely on his face and his voice. He really is masterful.
That's not to detract from his co-stars - this is a very welcome return from Helen Hunt, who seems to have been absent from the big screen most of the last decade, who plays Cheryl Cohen-Greene, the woman Mark hires as a sex surrogate after he starts an article on disabled sexuality and realises his own need to lose his virginity. Hunts performance is brave and perfectly pitched, she manages some tricky emotional corners without bathos, and rightly also picked up a pile of Supporting Actress nominations. William H Macy is great value in a key role as Mark's priest and confessor Father Brendan, as is Moon Bloodgood also excellent as Mark's no-nonsense carer Vera.
The subject matter may put off the casual viewer - disabled man attempting to lose his virginity - but the acting is wonderful and the witty, thought provoking and moving screenplay, featuring Mark's own writing and poems, is great. To say any more about the plot would be to do a disservice to the film, it's worth discovering for yourself, but there's no doubt about it Mark O'Brien's a remarkable man, and he is well served by writer/director Ben Lewin in this film.
Beautiful movie, that tells the story of Mark and his problems with sex, great performances by the two leading actors, in overall a great movie
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!