While The Sessions is being praised as one of the best films of the year, I can’t help but believe that it’s due to the fact that some folks cannot separate the actors from the movie itself. John Hawkes is fantastic as a 38-year-old quadriplegic iron lung-dweller with a desire to lose his virginity, but the movie itself isn’t close to being as perfect as his performance.
Unless you keep up with Oscar buzz or independent movies, John Hawkes’ face is one that you might recognize, but not know by name. He’s one of those brilliant actors who has relatively stayed out of the mainstream. That’s not to say that he hasn’t appeared in huge movies, but he’s the type who seems to only take strong roles in good movies. Some of the bigger films that he has appeared in are Contagion, Miami Vice, Identity, The Perfect Storm, Congo and the currently playing Lincoln. He also appeared in such series as Lost, Deadwood, Eastbound & Down and 24.
Despite spending all his time on his back, Mark O’Brien has never had sex. Being a devout Catholic, doing so outside marriage is a sin. While the fantasies of the act have presumably crossed his mind, Mark doesn’t contemplate losing his virginity outside marriage until he’s assigned to write an article about handicapped love-making. It isn’t until his local priest (William H. Macy) gives approval that Mark starts considering it.
Did you know that there are therapists that specifically help aid people through the act of sex. I didn’t know that it was legal to carry the professional title of “sex surrogate,” but according to the movie, it’s legal so long as you don’t exceed six sessions with said therapist. This is the story at the root of The Sessions. Mark makes the bold decision to start the session with a local therapist (Helen Hunt). Making Kate Winslet’s nudity in The Reader seem like nothing, 49-year-old Helen Hunt bears it all without shame.
Although the subject matter of The Sessions may sound absolutely vulgar, the way in which it is used is innocent. The Sessions breaks down the act of sex and humbly shows it for what it is (or, rather, should be) – a deeply emotional outward expression of one’s inner feelings for another person.
While my explanation of The Sessions may make it sound brilliant, it’s in the way that the story is told that leaves it lacking. My biggest complaint with the film is that it simply ends without warning. Certain storylines are never resolved. I, personally, walked away yearning for more – which is rarely the impression you want to leave a movie with.
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight