The Sessions

Originally Posted on the secret keeper on 19th May 2013.
Modified & Reedited for Expats Post 19th January 2014

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The Sessions, prior to its becoming a reality, started with the Oscar-winning film, “Breathing Lessons,” about the life of Mark O’Brien. When he was a child, he contracted polio and lived his life in an Iron Lung which enabled him to breath. His story in “Breathing Lessons” inspired the movie The Sessions, starring Helen Hunt, John Hawkes, and William H. Macy.

Mark O’Brien felt: “The two mythologies about disabled people break down to one: we can’t do anything, or two: we can do everything. But the truth is, we’re just human.” O’Brien was a frequently published journalist and poet. He contributed to National Public Radio. He fought against illness, bureaucracy and society’s conflicting perceptions of disability for his right to lead an independent life.

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William H. Macy as Father Brendan with John Hawkes as Mark O’Brien making a confession

The Sessions is a powerful and emotional film. We’re rooting for Mark as he moves through the issues of his life that challenges his every moment. It shows that he is human with the same needs that most humans want to get from their live. The film breaks down our emotions and all the way through shows an understanding of an honest and intimate portrayal of a complex, intelligent, beautiful and interesting person, who happens to be disabled.

There is a poem, that Mark O’Brien wrote, that is used in the film that speaks to the soul. The words reflect his inner feelings that will melt your heart. The poem is so descriptive of what he feels inside, and how he would express those feelings.

Throughout the film, he has long, intense conversations with a new priest to his parish, and within the film it is made obvious his extremely strong belief in God.

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William H. Macy in The Sessions

At times, it makes him question every decision he would make in order to satisfy his goals in life. One in particular, he has been feeling the strongest need to accomplish. The goal most humans want to achieve and satisfy. The goal has to do with being loved and in the expression of that love. To be able to be intimate with another human being. The Sessions is a provocative film which helps to define life, its questions and its meaning.

The Sessions Movie CLIP – Poem (2012) – Helen Hunt Movie HD

The biggest question on Mark’s mind is whether he will live his entire life never knowing the sexual intimacy with another person. In his case, the love and sexual satisfaction of sharing a complete sexual experience with a women. This is where the film takes on the most caring elements ever. The performances of Helen Hunt and John Hawkes are so believable and intimate.

We aren’t sure what to root for. Helen’s role is that of playing a sexual surrogate. She has a family. It is an endearing profession that she has chosen. Quite confounding and compassionate maintaining a personal life and a professional life where it is inhuman not to have natural human feelings surface, both physical, emotional, as well as spiritual.

If you want to see a film, where the characters are real, and you feel their reality as they are living it out on the screen, this is the film for you. You need to check any moralistic judgement at the door. It wasn’t a problem for me. I felt what was happening was essential, human, caring, loving and a necessary sharing for all those directly involved.

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Helen Hunt with John Hawkes in their roles as Cheryl and Mark O’Brien in The Sessions

I don’t want to give any of the film away but it is brilliant, intimate, humorous, makes me want to cry and smile all at once. We really aren’t sure who or what we should be encouraging. I felt their feelings so tenderly. Now that I have seen the film, The Sessions, I took from it a feeling that one can be healed. I am not talking about his polio, but his inner being. I will not say what happens but I will recommend you get this film. Buy It. Rent It. Stream It. Watch It On Demand. If you haven’t seen it in a theatre or if you have, see it again.

It teaches us about our own body and how it deserves to be honored and loved as part of our whole self. How to reach that union is something that I think many of us would like to do, but have not really experienced. The complete connection The Sessions teaches the viewer, is a magnificent experience of looking inward. It is delightful we get to share the joys, discussions, fears, anxieties, hopes, rejection, being ignored, having no power, being human, frail, tough and fighting to survive every minute of one’s life.

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Helen and John in The Sessions

Whether we need to be in an Iron Lung most of our lives or have lived a life that has been traumatized through other means or to have lived whatever life we have lived, this film will show us the way to what being equal is all about and that having a disability does not take away our being human and having human needs, wants, desires, beliefs, dreams, imagination, satisfaction, creativity and so much more.

We are in this together. We need to support one another. If one thing, Mark O’Brien, may have been put in an Iron Lung when he was a child, but he kept on living as if that Iron Lung was just something he had to accept. His life continued with all of his hopes and dreams. After watching this film, I would say Mark O’Brien attained so much more than most people would expect.

If for just sheer curiosity, to see a film that has the issue of sex right out there on the table, that alone should peek your cat like curiosity. This film is AMAZING. It is more than it could be and nothing less than it should be.

Do see The Sessions. It will enlighten your life beyond what you can imagine. People who are prone to crying be prepared with a handkerchief or three.

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The Sessions Trailer 2012 Movie – Official [HD]

Love Poem for No One In Particular
by Mark O’Brien

“Let me touch you with my words
For my hands lie limp as empty gloves
Let my words stroke your hair
Slide down your back and tickle your belly
For my hands, light and free-flying as bricks
Ignore my wishes and stubbornly refuse to carry out my quietest desires.
Let my words enter your mind, bearing torches
Admit them willingly into your being
So they may caress you gently within.”
— In the film The Sessions

***The Sessions won the Dramatic Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

***Helen Hunt won as Best Supporting Female in The Sessions for an Independent Spirit Award. She was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Sessions in 2013 for an Academy Award Oscar, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe. She was Nominated by the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in The Sessions.

***John Hawkes won as Best Male Lead in The Sessions for an Independent Spirit Award. Nominated as Best Actor in The Sessions for a Golden Globe Award. He was Nominated by the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in The Sessions.

***William H. Macy won as Best Male Lead in Fargo for an Independent Spirit Award. He was Nominated in Fargo for an Academy Award Oscar as Best Actor in a Supporting Role [1997].

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Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)
The Sessions, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

About the Author:

Words. Ideas. Visions. Sounds. Abstractions. Attract the Writer. Poet. Artist Inside of Me. Seeking Out the Unknown & Infinite Possibilities & Impossibilities. Living My Life Filled with Imagination & Creativity. Zen – j.kiley
  • Larry Conley


    “We are in this together. We need to support one another.”

    These are eleven of the truest words I have ever read. Why are they so hard to understand?

    I will make it a point to find and watch this movie.


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  • Larry,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I do hope you feel a strong reaction to this amazing film.

    “We are in this together” I can feel that.


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  • Cher Duncombe

    Another great review, Jennifer! William Macy and Helen Hunt are two superb actors. This looks like a must-see for me. Character development and a good storyline make a film worthwhile to me. After reading you, I believe this one has it all. Thanks so much for this recommendation.

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