We’re all so lonely in our own heads. Encompassed by our own metaphorical “iron lungs,” connection often seems impossible. For Mark O’Brien, played expertly by John Hawkes in The Sessions, it almost is.
After reading a couple of write-ups and seeing the marketing for The Sessions, I thought: Eh, it’s probably good but I’m honestly not that excited. However, when I sat down in the theater and watched it for the first time, I was so pleasantly surprised.
The Sessions is a poem– much like Mark O’Brien’s own poems that are read in the film, with a voice that is at once funny and sad. The movie is so deeply human, lovely, surprising and rather indescribable. I can see how they had trouble marketing it. When someone asks me what it’s about, all I can really say is, “Go see it.”
The main character is Mark O’Brien, a real person who had polio as a child and is now in an iron lung most of the time, with muscles so weak he can’t move anything below his neck. I am not now nor have I ever been in an iron lung, but this character’s desire for human contact, love, sex and understanding is the most relatable thing in the world– don’t we all want those things and struggle with how to get them?
Each scene is a poignant step into the next, laying brick after brick and by the end of the film a delicate house has been built around us. But it’s not walling anything out– rather we’ve been invited into something with the gentle grace of Helen Hunt’s character slipping her blouse over her head at the beginning of each session. We’re invited to love and be loved (physically, emotionally and spiritually).
So, everybody, go see it.
The Sessions is now playing at Images Cinema through Thursday 12/13. (And I have to say, it looks fantastic on our new digital projection system.) Info and showtimes at www.imagescinema.org.