Title: The Surrogate
Director: Ben Lewin
Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, W. Earl Brown, Blake Lindsley and Ming lo
This is an extraordinary film! The wonderfully interesting true story of poet and journalist Mark O’Brien is absolutely riveting, touching and sweet, along with a certain sense of humor that will endear audiences to O’Brian himself and the film. It really does show what the human condition can go through in this inspiring tale of sex, love and triumph. From filmmaker Ben Lewin, “The Surrogate” is a movie not to be missed by audiences in 2012.
This based on a true story tale accounts journalist Mark O’Brien’s (John Hawkes) sessions and involvement with a sex therapist, Cheryl Cohen Greene (Helen Hunt). Mark is brilliant! He is smart, clever and witty but because of severe polio as a child, Mark’s body is frail as he can only move his head. He has to spend most of his days and nights in an iron lung to stay alive. At age 38, he has never experienced the physical act of love and sex, and with the help of his sex therapist, Mark can finally feel like a normal human being and gain something unexpected, true intimacy.
“The Surrogate” is an excellent display in acting and at the center of it is John Hawkes as Mark O’Brien. Not only taking a physical transformation but a complete character transformation from his last two films, “Winter’s Bone” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” Hawkes has a great track record at the Sundance Film Festival and from the looks of it, it seems like he’s keeping that streak going. Helen Hunt is also extraordinary as O’Brien’s sex therapist, Cheryl. Hunt makes a triumphant comeback in this role and is reminiscent of her work in “Pay It Forward” or in “As Good As It Gets.” With Hunt, there is this certain level of bravery in her performance. Just jumping into the situation and shining like the sun, I was completely impressed by Hunt’s valor. William H. Macy also delivers a wonderful supporting role as Catholic priest, Father Brendan. Mark is very religious and Father Brendan serves that role well, playing both priest and good friend to Mark and supporter his quest.
“The Surrogate” earns every moment by not resulting to cheap filmmaking, although the screenplay is a bit weak, I feel the filmmakers and actors elevate it to this height. The drama and textures of this film, weave seamlessly throughout, giving an extremely tight and never slack pace that will have an audience engaged and involved. This touching story of a man wanting to feel the most basic of human traits and experiences is a winner. A movie like this doesn’t come along a lot in the course of a year, although many do try their best to. I feel “The Surrogate” is a film worth watching as it serves as a movie with real heartfelt emotions and authentic characters. This is a gem and an experience!