Friday, November 23, 2012

The Sessions: Movie Review

An adult man coming-of-age with sex therapy, personal guidance and false sympathy.

Crowned as the King of Independent Cinema, John Hawkes is starring in what was supposed to be the indie movie of the year. “The Sessions” is about the true story of Mark O’Brien a man left debilitated after suffering from Polio as a child. He works as a journalist, spends his time being taken care of by a personal nurse and goes to church for spiritual inspiration and guidance. And in 1988, decides it’s the year he’s going to lose his virginity. 2012

Directed by: Ben Lewin

Screenplay by: Ben Lewin

Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy and Moon Bloodgood

His fear of his nurse at the beginning of the film led him to the new Priest, Father Brendan (William H. Macy) to help with his ethical dilemmas. He was my second favourite character; perhaps a bit too loose on the moral law of religion, but that suits me just fine.

Mark then picked a young pretty nurse who he was sexually attracted to. Amanda (Annika Marks) was a well written character. She’s young and earnest and honestly wants to help people. It’s not surprising that she fell in love with Mark after the way he would look at her and appreciate her, especially in contrast to her boyfriend. Needless to say, they weren’t in love in the same way.

But at this point, Mark is even more determined to not necessarily find his soulmate but find a woman who will love him in a sexual way. He hires two nurses this time; a young attractive girl again but also a butch man. Rod can be a friend and a touch-point to his manliness, while Vera (Moon Bloodgood) is a beautiful but independent young woman with a fierce but sweet determination. She was my favourite character and when the film started treating her with less respect than deserved, it was hard to keep enjoying and appreciating it.

Eventually Mark finds his way to Cheryl (Helen Hunt), a sex therapist. Upon payment, she will introduce him to his sexual self and help take his virginity. I am among the group of people who believe this is really just a legal form of prostitution. The unsurprising conflict comes when Mark confuses the sessions for real life.

The film has refreshingly frank dialogue and Hunt shows no fear, willing to bare all for the sake of true drama. But I was disgusted by the lack of discussion and precaution for sexually transmitted diseases, and ultimately the main characters, Mark and Cheryl, appeared more selfish than sympathetic and the latter paraded an extremely selfish nature under the guise of altruism. “The Sessions” hits all the right notes for a wonderfully comedic and touching drama, but depending where your sympathies lie, some of it is just a bit too unfair.