- Director: Ben Lewin
- Genre(s): Drama
- More Details and Credits »
10John Hawkes plays a man in his late thirties who's lived most of his life in an iron lung. When he decides to explore sex, he seeks guidance from his priest (William H. Macy) and a sexual surrogate (Helen Hunt). Despite how it might sound, there's nothing unseemly or pitiable about this film. It's a sweet charmer with an upbeat disposition. Although he can only use his head, Hawkes creates a compelling character and all of the supporting case turn in captivating performances. Even in the most awkward moments, the humor and buoyant mood make this an uplifting and enchanting experience.… Expand
John Hawkes is the latest late bloomer of the coterie in Hollywood, thanks to the instant fame after WINTER’S BONE (2010, 8/10) and MARTHA MARARCY MAY MARLENE (2011, 6/10), he finally landed a once-of-a-lifetime leading role (the closest chance he got in his past underrated career is Miranda July’s cuddly gem ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW 2005, 9/10), although merciless being shut down by the academy members’ recognition albeit the wicked scheme of leading-lady-goes-supporting works again in favor of his co-star Hunt, sometimes the reality sucks, and the same could be empathized by the film’s protagonist Mark in the beginning, a paralyzed 38-year-old virgin seeks for his first full-fledged sexual intercourse with a sex surrogate Cheryl (Hunt) during six sessions (with a high-demanding mutual orgasm as the culmination).
Adapted by a true story (I know it’s a cardboard statement since it is irrelevant to the viewers), this blithely-paced, well-intentioned indie film peddles its sex-centered gambit with intimate delicacy, the curiosity of peeping other people’s sex life is subliminally enticing (plus Hawkes and Hunt are graceful in their naked forms), what’s more is when the usual dominant role of male has been nailed to an almost inclusive immobility, the comical nuance is brimful, but director/writer Ben Lewin neither exploits the racy material, nor unseemly dishes out condescending sympathy to the disabled’s restrained inconvenience. Maybe it is a whitewashed version of the reality, but the perspective of the film is unflaggingly confined to be personal and accessible, Mark’s interaction with Cheryl has been meticulously acted through each session (while most of them ended with premature ejection), when sex is so pure and without any smutty context, it is a true communication of two good-hearted souls, their mutual affections are genuine. Every line and tiny gesture (in the case of Mark, it is his expressions) bespeaks a sense of authenticity from the two great thespians.
Hawkes challenges Mathieu Amalric (THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY 2007, 8/10) in the body paralyzed, mind knife-sharp mode of acting, also due to the frequent naked scene, he twists his body to expose itself to the resemble a distorted spine, great homework has been done even before embody the mind of his character. Hunt is great as well, I hold no grudge to her but the fact of the category fraud, on the contrary, it is comforting to see her to swagger in a belated comeback, she radiates with warmth and zest as a woman has an unorthodoxy job with a family behind, the plucky nude scenes aside, her part of involvement is equally sincere and subtly hinted, as we may refer as good as it gets”. William H. Macy undertakes a sidelined role as the priest-and-friend of Mark, episodically gives some conventional advice and support with his unconventional appearance which may be a far cry from anyone has a priesthood background.
The film finishes with a farewell mass held for Mark, 3 women have entered his life and loved him in their own ways, an emblem of trinity fulfills his journey, and as a second-hand poet, his love letter may elicit a soul-touching sentimentality, but his iron-lung supported life has never been less meaningful than any of other healthy ones, the film, with no bombastic ambition, has done a practical job and sublimated its real-life fodder to a ruminating curio worth of introspection and high esteem. A fine piece of comedy offers more than expected.… Expand
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
A Dramedy based entirely around a middle aged man attempting to have sex for the first time. The twist, he spends most of his time in an iron lung because he contracted Polio in his youth. It's a picture that grips from moment to moment but leaves you empty on finishing. Mark O'Brian (John Hawkes) has been lying on his back for almost his entire life. He decides to visit a sex therapist to finally lose his virginity. However he is only allowed a limited number of sessions (suddenly that titles starting to make a whole load of sense now) and he really doesn't want this journey to end. Mercifully it does. The Sessons does despite my disappointment have several excellent qualities and almost all of them are the performances. The casting is excellent for the most part with ace performances from Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H Macy. In this regard the film succeeds as these characters and their interactions with one another feel real and engrossing. However the scenes are let down by a script that isn't really up to the quality of the acting as it not only treats the viewer like an indiot, repeating things over and over as if we didn't get it the first time but its also that the dialogue is so incredibly stiff and lifeless as if written without cognitive thought. Another problem lies in connecting these scenes together, something the film fails at spectacularly as it does it through the characters of Marks many carers who I found myself caring very little about. In fact the only real casting problem is Moon Bloodgood who is either horribly miscast or woefully bad, I just haven't decided which yet. The scenes in between sessions are dull, uninvolving and most of all frustrating as they feel motionless. In fact these scenes stop what little pace or flow the film has while having absolutely nothing of value to say. Overall the sessions is more disappointing than terrible but its on the boundary between the two at best and what keeps it from tipping over is the bold performances which are worthy of a much better film.… Collapse