Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Sessions [2012]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O) Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review 
Roger Ebert's review

The Sessions (written and directed by Ben Lewin) is a film that played at the recent 48th Annual Chicago International Film Festival (Oct. 11-25, 2012) prior to its release to "indie"/art house theaters throughout the United States.  The film is based on a 1990 article written by Mark O'Brien (played in the film by John Hawkes) a San Francisco Bay Area journalist, severely disabled since 6 years of age due to polio, who after a good deal of reflection set about to lose his virginity (in his 30s) by means of a "sex surrogate" named Cheryl (played in the film by Helen Hunt).  The original article can be found at Mark O'Brien's archived blog (O'Brien passed away in 1995) under the title "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate."

I would definitely recommend to any adult having concerns about seeing the movie to first read the article because I do think that most adults would immediately understand.  Yes, the story is definitely an R-rated one (PARENTS please do take note.  This story is not for your kids).  However, it is a remarkable case and the amount of reflection that the poor man does, both BEFORE and (in the article) AFTER should give his readers pause.  This severely disabled man wonders at the end of his article whether his adventure was worth it and he asks this with a sobriety that would impress many/most Confessors.  (Much of the film, in fact, involves discussion between O'Brien and his Confessor (played by William H. Macy).  However, I don't make this assessment here on any dialogue in the film, generally okay but necessarily created/contrived(?) for the film, but rather by O'Brien's own closing paragraphs with which he ends his article.  The frankness and sobriety of his own article make the film credible).

So yes, this is a provocative film, but it is definitely not a dumb one.  And three seconds into the movie I do believe that most viewers will understand.  What difficulties this man had to put up and what thoughts/reflections he nonetheless was able to leave us is IMHO remarkable.

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