What could have been saccharine awards-baiting B.S. becomes humane, life-affirming drama about far more than say, a rich regent with a stutter. John Hawkes has never been more watchable or witty as he is here, portraying Mark O'Brien, the Californian writer, paralyzed by polio. A 38-year-old virgin, O’Brien hires Cheryl, a sex surrogate, played by Helen Hunt. To say the two leads are “brave” may risk sounding condescending – but they are. Many actors might think twice about the film’s frank portrayal of sex and disability, but Hunt and Hawkes deliver wry, witty and wise performances. As do the entire cast, especially William H. Macy as O’Brien’s surprisingly open-minded Catholic priest. More
Writer/director Ben Lewin is a polio survivor himself, which may go some way to explaining how he pulls off the delicate balance between maudlin sentimentality and moving drama. The film benefits from a first-rate and often very funny script, and a committed cast delivering pitch perfect performances that, like Marco Beltrami’s score and Geoffrey Simpson’s cinematography, shirk attention- seeking theatrics for subtle honesty.
The Sessions is moving, funny, thought-provoking adult drama that manages to impress without ever beating you over the head telling you what to think. As O’Brien says at one point: “I can be a bit time consuming, but I’m worth the trouble.” And this tale of his life sure is – especially for those that like less bang and more human behaviour for their buck. Hide