The most shocking thing about “The Sessions” is not the very graphic sex scenes between the 38-year-old quadriplegic protagonist Mark O’Brien and the sex therapist he hires to help him lose his virginity. What is most shocking about this beautiful and true film are the scenes that Mark has with the priest from whom he seeks advice regarding these sexual encounters. In these scenes, the priest (played to perfection by William H. Macy) shows great clarity and wisdom as he advises Mark to proceed with the sex therapy. His counsel subversively proposes a church that could be truly embracing of the actual life of its members. In addition to the subversive priest, the film’s sex scenes between Mark and the therapist are so frank and unabashedly human that they seem impossible in a culture that both dreads and is addicted to sex.
The thing that great films can do is show us side by side how life “truly is” and how “it could be.” Ben Lewin’s film does just that: it shows such profound humanity in every scene. And the cast is universally superb. The result is a film that is true, and wise, and raw and unapologetically inspiring.
Moises Kaufman directed the current Broadway revival of “The Heiress.”