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Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Sessions

- Macy and Hawks

This week's movie rental was The Sessions ...

a 2012 American independent drama film written and directed by Ben Lewin. It is based on an essay by Mark O'Brien, a poet paralyzed from the neck down due to polio, who hired a sex surrogate to lose his virginity. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt star as O'Brien and sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene, respectively.

One of the reasons I wanted to watch the film was to see William H. Macy, who portrayed a priest who began as Mark's confessor but eventually became his friend. I found the movie kind of sad - I had earlier read about the real life Mark O'Brien and so I knew beforehand that the happy bits of the film were mostly fiction. Roger Ebert liked it more than I did - he gave it 3.5 stars out of 4. There's also a review of the movie at the Jesuit site, Thinking Faith, here. And here's the trailer ...


Anonymous Richard said...

Hi Crystal, haven't seen the movie but intrigued by your post I was able to find "Breathing Lessons" and read his essay. Both very compelling; if you haven't looked at them I recommend it. Although the Thinking Faith review and another Catholic reviewer seemed to take comfort from O'Brien's suggestion that losing his virginity was less exciting than he'd hoped; nonetheless, it seemed for him to be an important and perhaps necessary threshold event that allowed him to move on to the deeper aspects of relationship. I think there was a lot of humanity and compassion in the woman that played that role for him.

I too am optimistic about our new Pope Francis. I believe that holiness is an attribute that some individuals possess that can bring healing to the most moribund institutions. But I worry about his social conservatism, I hope it doesn't stand in the way of fundamental change.

1:34 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Richard,

Yeah, maybe the religious reviewers felt compelled to be down on unmarried sex?

When the movie first came out, I did read one of O'Brien's essays, but not the one you mentioned - I'll look for it.

There's a part at the end of the movie where the woman who was the surrogate converts to Judaism and goes through some ritual where she must unclothe while someone says to her that 'this is the body God gave you'. Most people can be happy with that thought, but what does it say about people like O'Brien (or me with the eye disease)?

I know what you mean about Francis. Already the few things he's said and done have shown the difference between him and Benedict - a good difference, I think. You really know the pope cult of personality has gone off the rails when a pope getting his own luggage seems like a miracle :)

But I've been reading more about the dirty war stuff and it doesn't reflect well on him. Plus it's just not very Jesuit-like to climb the religious ladder as he has (did you see this?). And then, as you say, there's his conservatism. But who knows - maybe the office will change him in a good way?

3:01 PM  

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