“The Sessions” (2012)
Directed by Ben Lewin
Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
Running Time 95 Minutes, Rated R.
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com
The trailers screams Oscar bait. Actors portraying those with severe disabilities and the women who have to break through their own tough exteriors to accept love. Good thing for “The Sessions”, they actually deserve the recognition.
Previously nominated for his searing performance in “Winter’s Bone”, John Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien, a journalist and successful poet crippled from polio when he was only 6 that left him dependent living in an Iron Lung. Only this film doesn’t concentrate on the anguish of his disability but instead on Marks love life, and more specifically, his sex life. Inspired from Mark O’Brien’s article “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate”, “The Sessions” plays as heartwarming and upbeat as the man of whom it’s about, with an endearing and physically demanding performance from Hawkes. Hawkes adds a nerdy charm to Mark that proves effective with the females.
A role that’s equally as physically demanding is played by Helen Hunt. Hunt plays Cheryl, Mark’s sex surrogate that commands the screen with confidence. Cheryl is quick to point out that she’s no prostitute, and their amount of sessions are limited to six. Hunt seems fearless with the amount of nudity director Ben Lewin asks for. It feels like the nudity barrage was to disarm us and wear us down of the taboo and by the end of the film it was no longer thought about when she disrobed. Personally, and this may be blasphemy to men, but I could have done with a pulling back on the nudity with the same message still getting across.
Not to be missed is the scruffy haired Priest that Mark confides with, played by William H. Macy. As the film progresses, Mark shifts asking Macy’s Priest advice from a heavenly point of view to that of a best friend so much so that beers are shared at Mark’s apartment.
“The Sessions” deals with a very adult aspect of sex that we all face, but shows it through the eyes of someone with a different set of challenges.
shows “this” through the eyes of someone with a different set of challenges.