Hilarious, charming and heartwarming, The Sessions is one of the best films of the year. It’s the true story of Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), a California-based journalist relegated to a gurney and iron lung because of disabling polio. At the age of 38, he’s still a virgin and, with the blessing of his priest (William H. Macy), Mark hires a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to remedy the problem.

Directed by Ben Lewin, The Sessions is now open in select cities with plans to expand over the next few weeks. As that happens, buzz will begin to grow for the film, which makes complete sense considering the source material. This fictional take on a true story is based on the 1997 Oscar-winning Documentary Short Film Breathing Lessons, written and directed by Jessica Yu. It too centers on O’Brien, but instead of using sex as the window to his struggle, the short presents a more traditional, complete portrait of the man.

Check out the Oscar-winner that inspired a potential Oscar-winner after the jump.

Thanks to Snagfilms (via Movies.com) for the heads up. Here’s Jessica Yu’s Breathing Lessons:

To find out when The Sessions opens in your city, check out this link. Here’s a bit more on the short:

According to Mark O’Brien, “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, and a contributor to National Public Radio. He contracted polio in childhood and, due to post-polio syndrome, spent much of his life in an iron lung. Yet for more than forty years, he fought against illness, bureaucracy and society’s conflicting perceptions of disability for his right to lead an independent life.

Breathing Lessons breaks down barriers to understanding by presenting an honest and intimate portrait of a complex, intelligent, beautiful and interesting person, who happens to be disabled. Incorporating the vivid imagery of O’Brien’s poetry, and his candid, wry and often profound reflections on work, sex, death and God, this provocative film asks: what makes a life worth living?

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