I WANTED TO SEE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. The entire time I was sitting in the theater with a friend to my right and a collection of people who qualified for the senior citizen discount to my left I was thinking: oh my god there is so much nudity on the screen and I just wanted to fucking see Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawerence (sp?) learn to dance together in a quirky montage but nowhere in the Rochester area was showing it. And so with the desire to see a movie that Thanksgiving weekend, I texted above mentioned friend: any interest in seeing The Sessions? 

Said friend loves movies and wants to be a director so she is usually game for weird movies or movies at all. She agreed to go. 

Now for those of you who haven’t seen the trailer for The Sessions it’s about Mark O’ Brien (played by the remarkable John Hawkes), a poet who was struck with polio at age six and is paralyzed from the neck down. Oh, he also needs to spend the majority of his time inside an iron lung to stay alive. So, you know, the good feel holiday stuff. Mr. O’ Brien, although paralyzed in body, still stays more active in his mind than a lot of people at my high school. Anyways, after a brief heartbreak, when an aid who he admits his love to, rejects him, Mark decides it’s time to lose his virginity at what I think is age 38 but my friend and I discovered the age timeline had a couple errors so don’t quote me on that. Mark is a practicing and very faithful Catholic so he decides to consult his priest, played by William Macy, about whether or not God will be pissed if he has sex before marriage. Macy says something to the effect of “I think God will give you a pass on this one.” By far, that line/ that moment was one of my favorite of the movie. I feel as if that really embodied what I think religion should be about: doing the best you can and being the best person you can be with your circumstances while believing that there is a higher power and/or god(s) watching over you and having a community who believes in same higher power/god/gods support you. In fact, all the scenes involving Macy and Hawkes were pure gold: funny, a little edgy but keeping the relatable factor that seems harder and harder to find in movies. Those scenes almost make you forget the good thirty minutes of watching Helen Hunt mount John Hawkes while he pretty much screams out in pain. Almost. 

After Mark obtains permission from his priest to do the deed he hires a sex surrogate, Cheryl (played by Helen Hunt, whose middle aged body puts mine to shame). Disclaimer about Cheryl: she is one of those lovely women who only exist in a male screenwriter’s imagination. Cheryl inexplicably is from Salem, Massachusetts but only has an accent when she says Mark (“Maaaaahk” is how she pronounces it), wears really long, flowy outfits that hide her “banging bod” (as one of the commenters on the youtube video of the trailer described it), is married to what she calls a philosopher and then describes as a bum (who is played by a man who looks strikingly similar to my English teacher), is the mother to a twelve year old son (a good five minutes of my movie watching experience was devoted to me thinking: oh my god what if my mother was a sex surrogate and then me thinking: thank you god that my mother is not a sex surrogate), and is converting to Judaism because she was previously Catholic but then left that religion because they didn’t appreciate her willingness to take her clothes off or some bullshit like that but now her husband wants her to be Jewish because apparently he doesn’t mind her having sex with other men as long as she is wearing a freaking Star of David when she does it. However, despite all this I think the thing that bothered me about Cheryl’s character the most is when she was explaining the difference between a prostitute and a sex surrogate her reason was something along the lines of prostitutes want your return business and I don’t because I want to pretty much be a catalyst to you having sex with people you’re not paying and I thought– that’s it?!? For goodness sake’s if that was the ONLY difference between her and a prostitute, I’d much rather be the prostitute because that way you can at least count on a steady income. Cheryl then explains to Mark that there is a limit of six sex sessions (ha, try saying that ten times fast) that they can have. And the rest of the movie is about those six sessions (spoiler alert: they only have four of them). Of course, Mark develops feelings for her because otherwise this movie would have little to no point. And I have to admit the ending was sweet and surprising and made me tear up a bit. 

I feel as I’ve been a little down on this movie as a whole and that may be simply because as a 17 year old girl I can’t altogether grasp the very mature concepts this movie revolves around. I see no problem, in fact I see a large amount of merit, in movies showing that not so pleasant and more nitty gritty parts of life such as how physically disabled people (or really any people) might experience sex for the first time. I can handle awkward, hell I’m a seventeen year old girl, so I pretty much thrive in awkward. But call it a fault of my high school’s overly zealous sexual education program but throughout all the sex scenes all I could think was, is he wearing a condom? Is she on the pill? Is there any sort of birth control going on here? Has she been tested for STD’s? WHY HAS NO ONE MENTIONED ANY SORT OF BIRTH CONTROL OR PROTECTION? So, I guess my major problem with this movie in all was that it chose only bits and pieces of life to be harshly awkward and realistic with, letting the rest of the movie fall into the Wonderland that is Hollywood cinema. 

However, before I leave this blog post, let me compliment John Hawkes on his astounding performance as someone who I sympathized, loved, and cheered for when all he could do was move his upper head. If that doesn’t deserve at least an Oscar nomination (since the Academy will probably be unwilling to nominate the boy from the Life of Pi for looking good shirtless next to a tiger) then I don’t know what does.

For more information about The Sessions check this out: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1866249/

If you’ve seen The Sessions and would like to share your opinion, please do! I love other people’s opinions because they are usually different from mine:)

As always follow me on twitter for a more up close and personal look into my life (meaning thoughts about my mother and college) at @abbyrosej

XO 

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