The Sessions (2012)

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8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting look at the lives of those with disabilities and great acting by Hawkes and Hunt

Some missed opportunity involving the ramifications of the sessions

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Sessions

Studio:  Rhino Films

Genre(s):  Drama/Comedy/Romance

Release Date(s):  January 23, 2012 (Sundance)/October 19, 2012 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

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Uh…It’s kind of getting cold in here…

Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) is writer and polio survivor, but he has been virtually immobile since childhood.  He possesses all the normal sensations but lives a majority of his life in an iron lung with a short time out with the help of caretakers.  When he is contacted by a publisher to do a story on sex and the disabled, Mark decides it is time to investigate his own sexual identity.  With the blessings of his friend and priest Father Brendan (William H. Macy), Mark begins seeing a sex surrogate named Cheryl Cohen-Greene (Helen Hunt).  With only six sessions, Mark hopes to achieve his dream of experiencing sex with a woman, but when Mark begins to fall in love with her, Cheryl realizes that the emotional toll might be too great for both of them.

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Awkward…

Written and directed by Ben Lewin, The Sessions tells the true story of Mark O’Brien and his attempts to have a normal sex life despite difficult odds.  The movie was the Audience Award winner for Dramatic picture at Sundance with a Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting.  Helen Hunt was recognized by the Academy Awards with a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as real-life sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene.

I hated how this movie was advertised.  The movie was presented as a light sex romp with lots of one liners and zings.  Yes, the movie does have one liners and zings, but it is much more than that.  It is a very nice dramatic-romance that has a very different look at sex and love from most movies out there.

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Well Father, you’d be surprised what’s possible

Like many, I wasn’t really very aware of the job of a “sex surrogate” so it was interesting to see how a surrogate works in a practical sense.  The idea of a limited series of sessions where it seems like almost anything can go where the two parties feel comfortable is a bizarre concept.  The idea however that Mark is able to open up more in a sexual situation is interesting, and it almost becomes a more productive form of therapy than a typical therapist.

I do have commend the actors.  Helen Hunt really puts it all out there…literally.  I would say a majority of her portion of the movie she spends virtually unclothed.  I did find her accent a little distracting.  Cheryl Cohen-Greene allegedly is known for her Boston accent, and it felt like Hunt really nailed a soft Boston accent at points, but other times didn’t have one.  Hunt’s performance got the attention, but Hawkes is amazing.  He continues to show that he’s a great up-and-coming actor and he does manage to change up his roles all the time.  I really wish the Academy had also recognized him in the ceremony, but I guess there isn’t room for every great performance.

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Mark, Remember, you’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you!!!

In addition to Hawkes and Hunt, much of the supporting cast is also fun.  Macy seems a bit over-the-top as the very, very understanding but flustered priest.  I realize his character is supposed to be open minded, but I wish the two had a bit more of a serious discussion since O’Brien’s character was deeply religious.  I also enjoyed Moon Bloodgood as Mark’s primary caretaker Vera and was surprised by a quick scene with Rhea Perlman.

The Sessions is a good movie despite some bad choices in its marketing.  It is a much more thinking movie than the previews gave it credit, but I do think that there was a bit of missed opportunity surrounding the sessions (the sessions were great).  It is worth checking out and does give you a new perspective on the lives of those challenged by handicaps.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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