Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 68 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The Sessions tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined at age 38 to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality. (Fox Searchlight)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 16, 2012
    The result is a human drama that quietly argues that the gift of life isn't one to be taken lightly.
  2. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Nov 1, 2012
    John Hawkes has, until now, been known primarily as the skilled character actor who brought an earthy authenticity to roles on TV's "Deadwood" and the Oscar-nominated "Winter's Bone." With The Sessions, he makes his mark as a bona fide member of screen acting's elite. And he does it while barely moving a muscle.
  3. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Oct 25, 2012
    John Hawkes is wonderful as O'Brien, as is Helen Hunt as the surrogate whose sessions with O'Brien form the crux of the film. The results are extremely moving and, in general, low on egregiously yanked heartstrings or the usual biopic filler.
  4. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Oct 13, 2012
    The emotional journey is articulated with so much nuance, and such a vigorous belief in human possibility, that everything The Surrogate touches becomes its own, and is made new.
  5. Reviewed by: Ellen E. Jones
    Oct 17, 2012
    Aided by committed, awards-ready performance, The Sessions transforms 'taboo' subject matter into a humorous, humane and uncomplicated pleasure.
  6. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Oct 25, 2012
    The Sessions is moving. At times, it's even erotic, which is unexpected, to say the least. It sends viewers out of the theater with a heightened sense of the physical and a real feeling for all the things that sex means in human life.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Oct 18, 2012
    It's strange to call a film with so much nudity and simulated sex "old-fashioned," but The Sessions nicely bridges that gulf.

See all 39 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 1 out of 27
  1. Dec 20, 2012
    If you are avoiding this movie because it's about a man in an iron lung and a sex therapist, don't. It has everything--humor, intelligence, and universality. The writing has not one false note. And if I ever see a performance as superb as Helen Hunt's, it will probably be given by Helen Hunt. Expand
  2. Nov 1, 2012
    An excellent film handled with respect and grace. If it weren't based on a true story, I might have wished for a bit more struggle on behalf of the Catholic Priest - something closer to that of the priest in Million Dollar Baby. Then again, killing someone (euthanasia) is much more serious in the Church's eyes than extra-marital sex. It just seemed a bit like William H. Macy's character went a bit beyond his role and became a bit too much of a rooting friend - can't see it happening in life. But aside from this, I just loved the film. Helen Hunt is fantastic, and Hawkes doesn't disappoint - he's still one of the most underrated and under-praised actors in the biz. Expand
  3. Apr 14, 2013
    How John Hawkes didn't get nominated for best actor I don't know. The Sessions is everything you want in a movie. The acting is superb with a sense of great emotions from tears to laughter. Expand
  4. Dec 28, 2012
    The Sessions" is not an easy film to either watch or review. If education and insight into the plight of the severely disabled is a worthy and constructive endeavor, then this film certainly meets that goal. If, however, the aim of a film is to afford the viewer the opportunity to relax and simply enjoy or experience the life or lives of others without feeling uncomfortable, then, of course, this movie will not be to the viewer's liking. Although in the same genre as "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (about a quadrapalegic who cannot speak but only blink to communicate), this film is much more than that since its character can, through his wit and intelligence, speak and communicate his thoughts and, as one of the actors in the film tells her "healthy" mate, "He (the disabled subject) is more of a man than you". Based on the true story of poet and journalist Mark O'Brien and his desire, at age 38, to experience sex for the first time in his life, John Hawkes ((in the leading role) ably assisted by therapist Helen Hunt and priest William H. Macy, conveys to the audience the efforts by this prisoner in an iron lung to move forward despite his incarceration. Difficult at times to experience the film's message, for me at least, is that the power of the mind can meet and, yes, even overcome. the physical burdens, obstacles and pitfalls that the fates place in life's path. Mr. Hawkes' character plays the hand that life dealt him with charm, humor and intelligence and, to that end, he and the real life person he portrays is to be admired and respected. I give an 8.5 rating for not only its message but for the skilled and sensitive manner in which this most difficult subject is treated. Expand
  5. Feb 22, 2013
    The Sessions is a curious and peculiar film; it is very different from what I have seen before, despite other movies about disabled people with the typical argument of death or euthanasia. The thing is that the idea of a quadriplegic man who wants to lose his virginity is very promising and it is perfectly well used, every dialogue or picture has a meaning and leads to such an unpredictable outcome. The situation that shows this film is basically a man trying to live a common life, hopping to fit in the society, making himself proud of what he has accomplish; it is not only about learning how to have sex, but also to have a partner and to be seen with her, to have friends, to be treated as an equal, to be loved. All these things that he wants to another person may be normal and would never questioned it, but he feels afraid of that, thinking that he does not deserve it and it is a punishment of God. In conclusion what The Sessions talk about is to cherish the little things that life brings to us. The script is very clever and the performances are great, John Hawkes and Helen Hunt especially Expand
  6. Lyn
    Nov 25, 2012
    The actors in this movie all look "real" -- which is especially welcome in a film based on a real story. The focus on sexual experience makes this one an interesting departure from most of the other movies you've seen about the challenges & inner lives of people with severe disabilities. And it's handled in an admirably matter-of-fact way with excellent performances. However, I think it would have been even more interesting had the filmmaker not added the Hollywood angle of the disabled man and his sexual surrogate falling in love. According to his actual account of the experience, they didn't. Expand
  7. Feb 23, 2013
    The sessions is the closest thing to a porn movie you can get without calling it porn. The movie is a sad film but the true saddest is that nothing sticks and the characters are extremely dull. Forgettable and not worth caring about. Expand

See all 27 User Reviews