My MIL and I intended to see ‘A Royal Affair‘ on Wednesday, but though the newspaper and the internet both assured me that it was playing at our neighborhood theater, it was not. Frustrating. I wanted to see it, but now, I’ll probably wait until it comes to Netflix. Not to be deterred, however, since my MIL had driven 1/2 hour just to see the movie with me, we looked at their offerings, and found something else. We chose ‘The Sessions.’ Wow, I’m glad we did.
If you’re not familiar with the plot, “The Sessions” is based on the true story of a late-30 something, Mark O’Brian (played by John Hawkes), who was paralyzed by polio as a child. Now an adult, he spends the majority of his time in an iron lung, and has assistants to help him with his every move. He cannot move his hands or his legs or his trunk, but he can FEEL them. He is devout in his Catholic faith, but lonely and wondering if perhaps there is some help out there for him in the sexual world.
William H. Macy is wonderful as Mark’s priest, a loving and caring man, trying to find the right path between scripture and true kindness and humanity. Helen Hunt is amazing as Mark’s therapist Cheryl, whose goal is to help her clients become comfortable with their sexuality, to help them find a way to find sexual joy in their future, where she will no longer be necessary. To have a 49 year old actress in a role where she has to be completely naked (and truly, most of us would be very happy to have our bodies that fit, muscular, and trim at 35, talk about brushing up closely with 50) is a brave move. To show the emotions involved in Cheryl’s career is amazing. It made me wonder if she went through this every single time she saw a new client. And wait, have I not mentioned Hawkes’ performance as O’Brian? He brings so much humanity, dignity, and humor to the role, that it’s a wonderful experience to watch.
I really, really enjoyed this film. I hope there are Oscars involved, but even if there aren’t, this is truly a film worth watching. Bring your hanky.