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Plot: At the age of 38, Mark O'Brien, a man who uses an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and his priest, he contacts Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a professional sex surrogate and a typical soccer mom with a house, a mortgage and a husband. Inspired by a true story, The Surrogate, follows the fascinating relationship which evolves between Cheryl and Mark as she takes him on his journey to manhood. Runtime: 95 mins Release Date: 15 Nov 2012
Not a single false note struck by any of the cast in this gem. John Hawkes, an actor's actor, finds a new level, as does Helen Hunt which is saying something. Every time I see William H Macy I think he is even better than the time before, and this is no exception.This beautifully constructed and rendered movie was written and directed by a guy that I have never heard of, and, I'm told, made for less than a million bucks. My guess is that we will hear a lot of him in the future.line 9line 10
Touching, Intimate and Adult Film (by barbaras2050)
John Hawkes continues to amaze with his chameleon-like embodiment of unusual characters. This time, he plays Marc O'Brien, a 36 year-old polio victim who has spent his life horizontal in an iron lung. Based on a true story, O'Brien is a poet and a romantic, who has never had a sexual experience. After consulting his priest, William H. Macy perfectly embodies the Berkeley radical father , he contacts a therapist and hooks up with a sexual surrogate, Helen Hunt. Their "sessions" form the heart of this tender film, and take both the audience and Marc on a journey of <more>
self-awareness and discovery. Hawkes is simply amazing. He imbues the character with innocence, hope and wry humor in what can only be described as a tour de force performance. Hunt is equally skilled in her role, combining professionalism, playfulness, sensuality, and compassion in series of sessions which require full nudity. Both actors are courageous in their pursuit of truth and humanity and achieve Oscar caliber performances, thanks to the sensitive direction of writer/director Ben Lewin.
This is an absolutely superb film! If you see a trailer it won't show how brilliant this film is, the only way you can actually experience how good it is is by actually seeing it. The only way that it can be advertised to actually make you want to see it is word of mouth. I see loads of films each year and I can tell you as a true critic, not biased by any specific genre, this film is brilliant. It's original, funny, shows the true awkwardness of the situation and work with it. It's fun, no matter how serious the condition or serious the illness is. The guy is fun. The best line, <more>
"Are you religious?" "Yes, I need someone to hate and blame for my problems". It's so true!
An unusual story most skillfully handled (by rokhopa)
The niche subject matter will not be to everyone's taste but the handling of it by the artful Ben Lewin has been most skillfully and sensitively handled. The casting, particularly Helen Hunt, is ideal and Ben's subtle Jewish humour adds just the right touch to what could so easily have become a difficult story to keep on the move. As the film progressed I became increasingly intrigued by how it might end but it never loses interest and the combination of a tight script, good acting and very sensitive direction keeps the tension right to the end. Although a low budget production, it <more>
never feels like it and is vastly more satisfying than the big name run-of-the-mill rubbish Hollywood churns out far too often. This is a rewarding film in its own right and a valuable study into how tough life is for the seriously disabled. It provides a great service to everyone caught in such extreme circumstances and deserves success.
Emotional, touching, and uplifting it inspires an intimate feel and discovery of achievement. (by blanbrn)
Been a little while since I've seen a film that's as touching and moving as "The Sessions" which is based on the real life story of a California man named Mark O' Brien. And it's certainly a little different O' Brien in a top notch and excellent performance from John Hawkes a poet and journalist is a man with talent, but tragically he's confined to an iron lung due to a kid bout with polio. Then at the age of 38 Mark has made the big decision to lose his virginity. This will be a big impact on Mark's life so he consults the advice of his ever honest <more>
priest Father Brendan in a good supporting turn from veteran William H. Macy who oddly enough gives a good hearted thumbs up.This pleasure changing experiment will have to be done with the help of a professional sex surrogate and this lady is a strong and tough wife and mother who makes her living helping others enter Cheryl in a strong and direct turn from Helen Hunt who can make everything appear like she's the plain Jane girl from next door. Slowly but surely these encounters or sessions between her and Mark produce results of feeling, relaxation, mind changing, and comfort, all before they finally approach the pleasure point! Along the way this picture is told with honesty and much of the scenes are humor mixed with blunt and brash serious feel of a man being set free toward a new feeling of pleasure freedom finally! Overall the "Sessions" is a film of journey and it shows how the discovery of sexual pleasure can bring out emotional freedom that's touching and memorable even though the scenes are brash with skin and memorable and educational with thought. This film is a real inspirational winner and the chemistry between Helen Hunt and John Hawkes is in top notch form as director Ben Lewin made a real and true winner.
Excellent performances and script make this well worth watching (by llltdesq)
Full disclosure: I'm disabled and have been since birth. So my perspective on this film is colored by the realities of my life. In no way, shape or form can I approach this film neutrally. There will be spoilers in my review: Prior to seeing this, I had seen Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien, a documentary short written and directed by Jessica Yu, so I knew something about O'Brien I recommend the documentary to anyone interested in learning more about O'Brien, as it's excellent. I was actually hoping it might be included as an extra on the DVD or <more>
Blu-Ray Release of The Sessions, though I really didn't expect it would be .The script for this film is very good, the performances by the two leads were excellent, with Helen Hunt deservedly getting an Academy Award nomination and John Hawkes giving a performance worthy of one and William H. Macy almost as good in his role as a Catholic priest who counsels O'Brien.That O'Brien chose to go the route of a sex surrogate in order to experience sex and not die a virgin is unsurprising, because it's a normal, natural part of life and being disabled doesn't, in and of itself, eliminate desire or natural inclinations or drives. What did surprise me is the level of acceptance he found, although how much of that is a true description of events and how much Hollywood film conventions is an open question. The priest is really the only character who's significantly shocked at the idea and his surprise seems to be more based on church doctrines on premarital sex as opposed to the idea that a disabled man isn't automatically a neuter. You might be surprised at some of the statements and questions I've had tossed in my direction, sometimes by complete strangers.Of the other performances, I was most impressed by Moon Bloodgood as Vera, one of O'Brien's caregivers and Robin Weigert, who has a small role playing Susan, the young lady who apparently became involved with O'Brien for several years prior to his death. Both performances are solid and fully fleshed out characters. Rhea Perlman has a small role toward the end of the film, as part of a subplot involving Cheryl Hunt's role .I went into this film expecting to have to make allowances for Hawes's performance, but I really didn't have to do so. He does a very good job and his performance is actually a rather understated one. He doesn't chew the scenery. There's a chemistry between Hawkes and Hunt which makes their scenes believable.This film is well worth watching. Most recommended.
Delicate Subject Makes For An Unforgettable Film (by georgep53)
"The Sessions" is a sensitive and poignant film with an outstanding performance by John Hawkes as poet Mark O'Brien a childhood victim of polio that left him paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on personal attendants and an iron lung that enables him to survive the nights without suffocating. In voice and facial expression he manages to perfectly capture the life of a severely disabled man who likes to push against boundaries and retains a sense of humor--he tells someone that he believes in God because he needs to blame someone. This role is quite a departure for Hawkes <more>
who gave terrific performances in films like "Winter's Bone" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" where he was Jennifer Lawrence's loner brother and a deranged cult leader haunting Elizabeth Olsen. Helen Hunt is memorable as the sex surrogate to whom O'Brien turns to help him achieve his dream of sexual intimacy with a woman. A professional as well as a wife and mother she doesn't hesitate to take exception with the notion that she is some kind of prostitute and clearly she isn't. William H Macy is the local parish priest whom O'Brien a devout Catholic relies on for advice and encouragement. There's plenty of wry humor watching Macy trying to figure it all out as he knows he's in uncharted waters. Based on a magazine essay director/writer Ben Lewin handles this unusual subject matter with great sensitivity and intelligence. This isn't some Hallmark TV movie it's a mature, honest film that isn't going to insult your intelligence. Definitely worth seeing.
Will Make You Laugh, Cry and Look at Life More Positively (by gt-thereelword)
The Sessions tells the inspirational true story of Mark O'Brien John Hawkes , a poet/journalist who has an iron lung and is paralyzed from the neck down due to polio. At age 36 he decides to finally lose his virginity and – with the support of his friend/priest William H. Macy – hires a sex surrogate Helen Hunt .John Hawkes Winter's Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene has been gathering accolades for his performance in The Sessions – and with good reason. He not only delivers on the physical demands of such a role but he manages to encapsulate the emotions of a man with a <more>
broken body but a good heart. It's an impressive performance that should see him at least receive an Oscar nomination come next years awards. Hawkes is almost matched by Helen Hunt. She bares all in a brave role that depicts a woman struggling with her job and her emotions. These two performances are some of the best so far this year. William H. Macy also gives a good performance as a likable priest that O'Brien is able to confide in.As a whole, the film doesn't shy away from much. The sex "therapy" sessions are depicted as realistically as possible and are both funny and touching no pun intended . Ben Lewin's direction is simple yet it manages to adequately depict O'Brien's world without sensationalizing it. It's an all round simple tale that is well told. This is an adult drama that will make you laugh, cry and look more positively at your own life. There aren't many films that do that these days.
My life is a little richer and deeper after watching this movie! (by remotePortal)
The Sessions is non-traditional coming of age movie with a refreshing original premise. At first I felt uncomfortable with the physical condition of the main character, but that's the point of the movie--to stretch us out of our comfort zone and empathize with others peoples' life experiences. The female lead, Helen Hunt, did a terrific job playing her character... I really enjoyed her performance. The movie had many fun and tender moments, and always kept my attention. Due to the subject matter there is lots of front female nudity and explicit sexual dialog and activity, so <more>
absolutely no kids or teens should see this movie! If you're in the mood for an "art house" movie and need a break from mainline Hollywood movies, this one is a good choice. My wife and I really enjoyed The Sessions and we're glad we saw it!