SunFlix Film Based on Autobiographical Story
The Sunrise Theater kicks off the month of December with a film that has won as many accolades as the text on which it was based.
"The Sessions," a drama about a 38-year-old polio survivor confined to an iron lung who seeks the help of a therapist to lose his virginity, despite his physical limitations, is based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California journalist and poet Mark O'Brien. The film will be shown Thursday, Dec. 6, through Monday, Dec. 10, with all showings at 7:30 p.m. (no Saturday or Sunday matinees).
The cast includes John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy and Adam Arkin; it was directed by Ben Lewin. "The Sessions" is rated R for strong sexuality, including nudity, and runs 1 hour and 38 minutes.
Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) was a journalist and poet who was paralyzed from the neck down by polio at the age of 6.
He breathed with the support of an iron lung. With the help of his therapist and his priest (William H. Macy perfectly embodies the Berkeley radical father), he contacts a therapist and hooks up with a sexual surrogate, Cheryl Cohen Greene (Helen Hunt), to help him lose his virginity.
Their "sessions" form the heart of this tender film, and take both the audience and Mark on a journey of self-awareness and discovery.
The film is based on an article O'Brien published about his experiences with Greene, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate," which appeared in The Sun Magazine in 1990. O'Brien's life was also chronicled in the 1996 short documentary "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien,' directed by Jessica Yu. This film won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Mark O'Brien died in 1999 at the age of 49.
"The Sessions" debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award (U.S. Dramatic) and a U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting. It opened in key cities to excellent reviews and is among the 10 best reviewed independent films of the year according to the website Movie Review Intelligence.
Claudia Puig in USA Today, described it as "... a moving tale... wryly funny... While there's a heavy weight of sadness to the overall tale, this cinematic account is buoyed by humor, intelligence and warmth."
Mara Reinstein, of Us Weekly calls it "...both hilarious and touching... boasts stellar performances: John Hawkes triumphs... Helen Hunt bares her soul (and her body)..."
And Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, calls the film "...a reminder of how unique sexual intimacy is, and even how ennobling... This film rebukes and corrects countless brainless and cheap sex scenes in other movies."
The historic Sunrise Theater, located at 250 NW Broad St. in Southern Pines, is nonprofit.
Ticket prices are $7 with a $1 suggested donation toward the new projection system. Tickets are only available at the box office prior to shows.
Refreshments, including popcorn, beer and wine, are available.
For information about this film or other cultural events at the Sunrise, contact the theater at (910) 692-8508 or visit the website www.sunrisetheater.com.
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