A moving portrait of intimacy
WHILE The Sessions is very much about quadriplegic writer and poet Mark O’Brien, this wonderfully warm, funny and genuinely touching film is not concerned with any of his many notable career achievements.
Instead, The Sessions covers one goal in life that O’Brien was prepared to move a metaphorical heaven and earth to achieve: the loss of his virginity.
After The Sessions introduces us to Mark ( played to perfection by John Hawkes), the above task seems even more difficult than it already reads on paper.
O’Brien is a devout Catholic. His faith has seen him through some tough times. The prospect of considering recreational sex – let alone having it – could be a devotional dealbreaker.
So Mark is compelled to consult his local priest, Fr Brendan ( William H. Macy).
The man of the cloth is as unsure about this ethical dilemma as his guilt- riddled parishioner.
Nevertheless, he gives the godly seal of approval.
‘‘ In my heart,’’ Fr Brendan advises Mark, ‘‘ I believe He will give you a leave pass on this one.’’
So now all that is needed is a woman willing to go where Mark O’Brien has never been before.
Her name is Cheryl ( Helen Hunt, who equals Hawkes’ fine work), a sex therapist who specialises as a ‘‘ surrogate’’, using her body to allow others to open previously closed doors to intimacy.
Is Cheryl a prostitute? No. The crux of her work is helping her clients mentally prepare for the physical act of lovemaking. Cheryl will only ever consult with a patient for six sessions.
There are reasons. Good reasons. Cheryl is married. A line must be drawn between learning intimacy and falling in love.
As flagged by the title, the heart of the film beats strongest in the scenes shared by Mark and Cheryl, all of which are both confronting and comforting in their explicit depiction of this unusual brand of therapy.
There is nothing gratuitous about these scenes, and much emphasis is made of Cheryl’s rigorous attention to Mark’s emotional wellbeing.
Better still, the closeness we are witnessing on screen – though ostensibly clinical in nature – deepens our understanding and appreciation of both characters.
A friendship blossoms before us, an inspirational bond between two people that has nothing to do with sex.
So close down your misgivings about the subject matter, and enter The Sessions with an open mind.
I guarantee you will emerge truly rewarded and sincerely moved. DON’T let the title put you off. Especially if you’ve been waiting a decade and more for someone to run with the ball Quentin Tarantino put down after Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. This is a crazed crime thriller with an astute comic edge: menacing, meaningless and massively funny. Colin Farrell plays an alcoholic screenwriter trying to pen a script about psycho killers, and being forced to research the topic in the company of actual nutjobs. Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and the great Christopher Walken are at their brilliant best when the mayhem breaks out. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh ( In Bruges ). Now showing Village and State cinemas VETERAN actor Niels Arestrup dominates as Paul, a workaholic winemaker whose grasp of family responsibility is at odds with his obsession with the grape. His son Martin ( Lorant Deutsch) has reached a point where one would assume he be given a guiding hand in the business. However, his father doesn’t rate him. Not only in terms of what it takes to make a fine wine but as a human being as well. A familiar tale in many ways, the unease and misdirected emotions they harbour in their characters hold the predictable at bay. A mustsee for anyone who appreciates highly skilled acting and deceptively intuitive storytelling. Now showing State Cinema