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Let Me Touch You with My Words

24 Oct

The new movie The Sessions tells the story of a man who, shortly before his 40th birthday, finally loses his virginity.

But that’s about the only thing it has in common with a certain Steve Carell movie.

Actually, The Sessions tells a true story, that of Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), a writer in Berkeley, Calif., who contracted polio when he was young and who’s spent most of his life paralyzed from the neck down, supported by an iron lung.

Despite being a romantic and something of a ladies’ man, O’Brien has never enjoyed the touch of another human being for any kind of intimacy. So finally, at the age of 38, he decides he wants to lose his virginity. Since O’Brien is also a devout Catholic, he first gets permission from his priest (William H. Macy), who tells O’Brien that God “will give you a free pass on this one.” After all, as O’Brien explains, “Sex is a serious matter. It’s one of the most persistent themes in the Bible.”

And so, he meets Cheryl Cohen-Greene (Helen Hunt), a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt), who makes it happen over the course of six sessions. (That’s the chief difference between a surrogate and a prostitute: A prostitute wants repeat business, while a surrogate’s role is more finite.) Continue reading