This movie most likely flew under the radar for the casual movie go-er which is sad. The Sessions follows an award winning writer, Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) who requires an iron lung to live so needless to say his sex life is next to inexistent. After conversations with doctors and his priest (William H. Macy), Mark decides to lose his virginity before the iron lung is no longer able to support him he hires a sex surrogate, Cheryl (Helen Hunt). Cheryl does her best to keep the relationship professional but Mark is quick to fall in love which complicates the situation further than it already was. Click here for the trailer.
Let’s get the obvious thing about this movie out of the way, yes there are plenty of awkward moments. There is a lot of sexual subject matter that will shock a lot of people that are not used to see it in a movie… especially out of Helen Hunt. And no, it is not necessarily awkward because of Mark O’Brien’s condition but the sex scenes are very authentic and Mark experiences the same difficulties of a your average everyday guy. Personal demons that date back to childhood experiences and the trauma it causes mentally later which inhibits them sexually.
The Sessions features two top notch performances from John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. I am so glad to see John Hawkes get a leading role in a movie that will finally earn him the respect he deserves as an actor. As Mark O’Brien he conveys both physical struggles as well as emotional battles stemming from guilt about a childhood experience. Until now I think most people see him as that creepy/funny guy with the goatee from a lot of his supporting roles. But now he gets to show his true versatility as an actor. As for Helen Hunt, I think she definitely made the male audience happy in this movie. But really her performance goes far beyond the nudity and more about the struggle of her profession.
Overall, The Sessions is worth at least a watch for John Hawkes’ phenomenal performance and the very real subject matter of the story. My one drawback is that it gets boring at times even during the sex scenes (a tough task I must admit) and very predictable. I give The Sessions a 7/10.