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Movie reviews: The Sessions and Blue Valentine

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We saw two love stories, of sorts, recently. One is a current release about a man who spends most of his day confined to an iron lung, and thus is still a virgin at 38. The other is about the volatile relationship between a nurse played by Michelle Williams, and a house painter played by Ryan Gosling.

One of the two was really depressing. But probably not the one you think…

**** The Sessions (October 2012) – Theatre

John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macey. Journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, whose childhood polio has left him confined to an iron lungmost of the day, but who does have functioning genitalia, becomes determined to lose his virginity at age 38, with the help of a sex therapist.

She says: The trailer for this movie makes it look really funny, and much of it is, in the interaction between Mark and his caretakers, and especially with his open-minded priest, played by William H. Macey. But it is also really touching, especially in the relationship between Mark and his sex therapist, Cheryl. Cheryl (who is married) knows the pitfalls of transference and how to set limits on the sex therapist / client relationship, but her own emotional response makes these harder to maintain as the sessions (six maximum!) continue.

The sex in this movie is really beautiful, not because of amazing bodies or great cinematography, but because it really is an expression of intimacy and love. It’s triumphant.

He says: That was a really sweet movie. (And that’s all you’re allowed to quote me on.)

Scene from The Sessions

** Blue Valentine (December 2010) – Rental

Poster from Blue ValentineMichelle Williams, Ryan Gosling. A marriage at the end of its ropes is contrasted with the happy start of the relationship.

She says: The acting is good here, it’s very realistic, but it’s brutal watching two people who once loved each other just tear each other apart. Made for rather depressing viewing.

He says: I didn’t find anything good about that. I don’t care that it’s “well made”; there was just nothing to enjoy there.

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