Film review: The Sessions


Director: Ben Lewin
Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, Adam Arkin, W. Earl Brown
Rating: (M)
5 stars (out of 5) 


Photo supplied.
Photo supplied.
The Sessions (Rialto) is a heartfelt movie that most people will feel uncomfortable watching.

Seeing sex treated matter-of-factly and honestly is so rare that it appears confronting.

The Sessions is based on an article written by Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) about his use of a sex therapist. Mark contracted polio when he was 7 and spent the rest of his life needing an iron lung. He was not paralysed but had no muscle function and needed to be transported on a gurney.

Despite this, he attended university and made a living as a journalist. He was commissioned to write an article about the sex lives of disabled people and this prompted him to hire a sex surrogate to gain the sexual experience that his disability had denied him.

His therapist, Cheryl (Helen Hunt) is a no-nonsense professional. Mark is more romantic. He wants a mental connection. She works to boundaries. There can be no more than six sessions, she does not share personal information, she documents each session to maintain professional clarity.

Despite this, their sessions start to become about more than just a physical procedure.

Best thing: The lead actors are brave. Hunt for spending so much time nude and Hawkes for tackling such a profound physical disability. That you leave more impressed by the witty dialogue shows their success in humanising these characters who could have just been empty cliches.

Worst thing: That many people will be turned off by the subject matter and deny themselves this tender story.

See it without: Thinking you are going to see some hot and steamy erotica.

By Christine Powley