Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Sessions

11 March 2013

The official trailer. Watch this, and you have no need to watch the whole film.

Extremely slight idea, not developed beyond stating it. Worth nobody’s time.

A woman sex therapist (sexual surrogate) helps a man paralysed from the neck down to have his first sexual experience.  

That’s it. 

I suppose there must be more, to fill out the space, both in the film and in this review. She is married to a mostly understanding man; she provides some extremely obvious therapy, suggesting the central character blames himself for getting the polio that crippled him. 

Plausibly, he falls in love with her. As he is a poet, he is somehow able to get her to reciprocate, implausibly.

I can’t think of a good reason to watch this film. It has some cute moments, most involving his Catholic priest, and is frank about sex, and sex for disabled people in particular.

However, the film is mostly curious for its treatment of disability. Mark is mostly confined to an iron lung but appears remarkably chipper. And financially secure. Is he getting his money from writing? How can he afford a nice house and to pay for a full-time carer, much less sex therapy?

All of this seemed extremely implausible, though as this is ‘based on a true story’ I suppose it’s broadly accurate.

Nonetheless the filmmakers have chosen to provide an account of disability that ignores all social and economic questions beyond sex. Even the religious support (the priest) is so worldly he might as well be a guy down the pub. 

I appreciate this is a relatively upbeat story about disability, presenting a positive view, rather than suggesting lives of unbearable torment. 

But does this warrant a focus entirely on sexual satisfaction as being the most important thing in life? The sexual therapist has a very pragmatic approach, but the filmmakers disregard this in the sentimental closing scenes, which suggest that having known the love of three beautiful women makes life in an iron lung worthwhile. 

It’s all very anodyne, and gives the impression of straining for Oscar-worthiness, as if all that a US film has to do to be an artistic success is sympathetically portray increasingly extreme states of physical or mental disability.

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