Movie Review: The Sessions welcome on my movie therapy couch

November 19th, 2012 at 8:17 am by under THRS Movie Reviews

Click HERE to watch The Sessions trailer.

The Sessions is based on a true story – and an article written in 1990 – by a poet and journalist names Mark O’Brien.  Mark (John Hawkes) was 38 at the the time of this story.  Because he contracted polio, he’s been left without the use of his muscles and forced to live 90% of his day, every day, inside the confines of an iron lung machine.

The movie focuses on a span of time in Mark’s life when he realizes his time to experience life to the fullest is running out.  What he wants most is to experience sex with a woman.  He sets out on that path with help from a therapist, a friend and his priest (William H. Macy).  Ultimately, Mark finds himself going through a series of meetings with a sex surrogate named Cheryl (Helen Hunt) to learn how to understand his body and experience intercourse.

What follows is a poignant, emotional, and heart-felt portrayal of the human need to connect with others.  The acting is above supreme.   Macy’s character becomes a good friend to Mark while guiding his steadfast Catholic beliefs.  Macy’s performance is wonderful.  He manages to portray the character’s own struggle with celibacy and his feelings about it.  Kudos to Macy!

Hunt as Cheryl, the sex surrogate, manages to bring the most intimate act to an average  clinical level in the beginning, because its her job, but soon realizes that her patient is anything but average.  The planned six sessions take a turn that neither doctor nor patient could have anticipated.  Seeing just the right amount of her backstory helps soften and elevate the story.

Hawkes’ performance is nothing short of amazing.   Playing a character this physically challenged can be no easy task, but Hawkes really makes the audience buy into the fact that he is what he purports to be.   His breathing, voice, and ability to make you truly believe he has no control of his muscles — all on point.

The Sessions is written and directed by Ben Lewin, and it’s practically perfect.  The characters are fine tuned so well, it’s hard to believe he didn’t live it.  It has just the right touches in just about every scene.  It is not for the shy; but the sex scenes are so well done you almost feel like you are experiencing sex for the first time.  The tenderness juxtaposed with the comedy gives the script the humanity that could easily have been lost in the subject matter.


Rated R for nudity, sexual situations and clinical sexual terminology.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply