Archives / 2012 Sundance Film Festival

The Sessions

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Director: Ben Lewin

Screenwriters: Ben Lewin

Institute History

  • 2012 Sundance Film Festival

Description

The quest for love appears insurmountable when a man confined to an iron lung determines, at age 38, to lose his virginity. Based on the autobiographical writings of Berkeley, California–based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, The Surrogate chronicles his attempt to transcend the limbo between childhood and adulthood, in which he is literally trapped. With the blessing of an unusual priest and support from enlightened caregivers, the poignantly optimistic and always droll O’Brien swallows his fear and hires a sex surrogate. What transpires over a handful of sessions transforms them both. Rivetingly, sensitively, and humorously portrayed by John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, the couple’s clinical exercise becomes a tender, awkward, and gracious journey from isolation to connection—corporal and spiritual.

This poet’s extraordinary story resonates with the elegance and precision of a poem. No line in The Surrogate is extraneous, no frame accidental. Filmmaker Ben Lewin's masterful brushstrokes endow every character with fullness and authenticity, fashioning rich metaphors and emotional nuance and fusing them into an exquisite, unforgettable awakening.


(Archives note: see also Ben Lewin's Meet The Artist interview on our YouTube Channel.)

— C.L.

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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