#REVIEW: “THE SESSIONS”
Perhaps one of this year’s biggest sleeper Hits is Ben Lewin‘s The Sessions. On paper it admittedly is a bit of a hard-sell, but on-screen one cannot help but fall in-love with this Story which actually is inspired by true Events. The Dramedy centers around a 38-year-old Man named Mark (John Hawkes) with an Iron Lung who hires a professional Sex Surrogate in Cheryl (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his Virginity. At war with himself morally, Mark also seeks the guidance of Father Brendan (William H. Macy) on this road to self-discovery in making it through this Rite of Passage to fully becoming a Man. Matters get complicated as boundaries are blurred when Cheryl, who is married, becomes emotionally invested in Mark in their time together, while at once they are approaching an end to their six Sessions together.
Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) delivers yet another superb performance here breathing Dignity, Compassion and Vulnerability into a complex Protagonist whose greatest weakness is not so much his physical constraints as it is his hunger for Affection. The early Oscar Buzz fully is warranted and there never is a moment we aren’t pulling for him.
Director/Writer Lewin treats The Sessions with just the right amount of sensitivity to make it a heartfelt Portrait of Love and Heartbreak, rather than this verging on what easily could have been Sex Comedy territory. Hunt is absolutely daring in this Role, appearing nude in much of her Screen Time, while fully embodying the emotional struggles her Character must face – torn between two entirely different realms in her private and work life. Macy never really gets a chance to shine fully, but delivers much of the comedic elements that make this Film special and memorable.
The Sessions certainly is one of the year’s best, nailing all the right notes emotionally. Fox Searchlight releases in Toronto on Friday, October 26, 2012, Vancouver on November 2, 2012, Edmonton and Calgary on November 9, 2012 and Halifax, Winnipeg, Victoria and Ottawa on November 16, 2012.