The Dallas Movie Screening Group

This is the homepage of the Dallas Movie Screening Group. To join our mailing list you must sign up at our group page on Yahoo. You will then be connected to receive notices on how to find passes to the local screenings in the DFW area. It's up to you to pickup or sign up for passes. You can also barter, trade or just giveaway passes you don't want, need or share with other members of the group. Please read the instructions on the Yahoo page very carefully before posting. This group is closely moderated so that your mail box is not full of spam or other unnecessary mail. We appreciate everyone's consideration and cooperation.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Sessions

Reading a synopsis of this film written and directed by Ben Lewin (The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish) says it's about a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity via a professional sexual surrogate. Don't let that influence your opinion of a movie that is exhilarating and life affirming. It's based on the true story of poet and journalist Mark O'Brien while living in Berkeley, CA in 1988. Having contracted polio at the age of 6, O'Brien spent all but a few hours a day in an iron lung. He managed to attend school in a motorized gurney until he could no longer use it. His body care is given during different shifts by attendants. Now almost forty which is long for a polio victim, he wants to experience sex. Since his condition doesn't exactly attract possible girlfriends, he decides to use a sexual surrogate.

John Hawkes does a possibly Oscar worthy job as Mark O'Brien. By being able only to use his eyes and voice he has to express the inner life of a man who doesn't have control of his body. Hawkes had to twist his thin ridged body into contorted shapes by using a soccer sized foam ball to lay onto the left size of his back to curve his spine. He showed the difficulty of using a mouth stick to dial a phone or type as it's the late 80's and voice activation is not in use. Like Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot, it's a physically technical virtuosity of a performance.

Ben Lewin also suffered from polio as a child knows O'Brien's suffering and infuses the material with a light and touching viewpoint. There's no doubt that O'Brien is brilliant despite his limitations. His assistants during the day are young pretty women who are stimulated by his conversation, but are made uncomfortable when he begins to fall in love with them. It's also disconcerting when they bath him and his body responds in ways that are embarrassing as he has no way to control it.

He contacts surrogate Cheryl Cohen Greene (Helen Hunt). She's a grounded mother of a teenage son, and has a very understanding husband (Adam Arkin). Cheryl is cool and collected, a no nonsense sort of person, who is undaunted by the delicate nature of her job and her clients. She quickly puts Mark at ease and is carefree and uninhibited with her nudity. She is only allowed 6 sessions with Mark, so there's lots of ground to cover. His apartment only has his hospital bed, so at first they use a motel. Then they are offered a bedroom at friend's house who is also physically disabled. The discussions on the sex life of the disabled is very enlightening.

As a very religious individual he consults the local priest Father Brendan (William H. Macy) for advise. Their entertaining conversations on the life of an active mind trapped by disabilities will hopefully change people's attitudes in some small way. Macy does wonders with the priest who is at first uncomfortable, but eventually embraces Mark's liberation and reconciles surrogacy with Catholicism.

Don't let the previews and the story blurbs keep you from this film. It's will make you cry and laugh and cry again. But you will leave the theater happy and sated.
(Review by reesa)

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