‘The Sessions’ is a biographical film based on Mark, a person who due to his Polio is bed stricken and unable to move any part of his body below his head, so he decided to seek a “Sex Surrogate” that specialises in dealing with people with disabilities, in order to lose his virginity.
The film is utterly charming and heartwarming throughout, it is a perfect storm of prime subject matter, phenomenal performances and a very powerful script, that help make it something quite special.
John Hawkes is excellent as Mark and delivers a very natural performance, within minutes you forget about the actor and truly believe he has had this disability for most of his life. The restrictions in having nothing to use but your head while acting is not an easy task to make believable emotionally but Hawkes nails it, even adding small nuances throughout that makes the performance just that much more believable.
Helen Hunt is great, John H Macy is very good, but the issue is that Hawkes is so damned good, he puts the others to shame. The chemistry Hawkes shares with Hunt and Macy on screen though is palpable and that is not all on Hawkes.
The film is funny but never mocking of the subject matter, it never devolves into laughing at Mark, only laughing with him, it’s refreshing and gives the film a warmth about it. This could be because the writer and director also suffers from Polio and whilst he was affected differently, he helps give a peek inside the life of what was a real person.
It would be a dishonour to Mark O’Brien to call this a sad film, there are sad moments of course, but it is a look at how much meaning every person’s life truly has. It’s okay to lose hope, because someone will help you find it again. Most of all though, it is about living life to the fullest, loving people, losing people, accepting yourself.