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Reviews & Ratings for
The Sessions More at IMDbPro »

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A Beautiful and Inspiring Story

Author: akash_sebastian from India
10 January 2013

It's a beautiful and inspiring story. John Hawkes is brilliant in his portrayal of polio-afflicted quadriplegic man, who's quite intellectual and charming. With just his facial expressions and dialogues, Hawkes charms you throughout the movie. Helen Hunt is flawless, as always, and pretty comfortably gets into the shoes of a sex surrogate. William H. Macy and Moon Bloodgood are amazing as the supporting characters; they have some of the best dialogues in the movie.

Mark O'Brien's story is intriguing, inspiring and quite moving. His intention to lose his virginity through a sex surrogate leads him to experience love, both physically and emotionally. Mark O'Brien's story proves that physicality doesn't play such a big role when it comes to affecting and attracting people, in the long run; intellect and charm are greater factors. He affects and attracts the lives of three beautiful women.

The nudity and sex in the movie is not vulgar or erotic; it's more on the emotional and intimate side.

Some of the memorable dialogues from the movie include: 1> "I understand that even among non-believers, the most common expression of sexual ecstasy is 'oh God'". 2> Vera: "Today, they're working on simultaneous orgasm." --- Clerk: "What's that?"

As Betsy Sharkey from Los Angeles Times aptly says, "In a country that embraces cinematic violence with such ease but blushingly prefers to keep sex in the shadows or under the sheets, the grown-up approach of 'The Sessions' is rare."

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Well-cast, poorly written

Author: aaron-snelling-841-237017 from austin, tx
11 November 2013

Simply put, this film disregards almost every aspect of story-making. It feels like the writer and the director are complicit in their dastardly plot to sell a movie that functions under the guise of moral relativity and shocking content, but does little to actually challenge the audience. The main thing is that there is pitiable protagonist and he hires a sex surrogate, no judgment, but she's really just a prostitute, but you're supposed to question your policies on prostitution in order to appreciate his emotional need for affection. This is very valid, but the movie does very little to hit you in the stomach with that idea. I mean it really could have hurt if they tried harder.

There needs to be another character, the big-shot Hollywood producer who says "THIS is how you make a movie!" It's a shoddy job of adapting a person's life to the silver screen, and although it pretends to pull no punches (full-frontal nudity) it pulls all the punches. There's no serious drama; It's a comedic attempt at a tragedy.

Notable in it though, are John Hawkes' and Helen Hunt's performances which are the most compelling bits of emotional realism. In other scenes Hawkes is usually being sarcastic and making jokes, but with a sense of humor that relies on him being seriously disabled, so to say the humor isn't great, but the content (the fact that his life sucks) makes it amenable because you're glad he's upbeat.

Scenes with William H. Macy are particularly culpable of this pathetic comedy. Everything about the dialogue between the two is as natural as Macy's hairdo. Seriously look at Macy's hair, it's so stupid, I mean for a goshdarn priest; There has never been a priest with a hairdo like that. It may seem like I'm nit-picking here, but it's so absurd it angers me, and I'm not usually one to notice the cosmetic aspects of movies. Everything about their conversations feels contrived in order to convey Hawkes' rosy demeanor about the whole thing and justify his buying a prostitute.

All that said, the actual story behind the movie is a compelling reason to see it despite everything the director, writer and producer do to counteract its true appeal to human nature. And the acting by Helen Hunt and John Hawkes is moving. This could have been a great movie, but it just misses on so many levels.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

There really are some sad, sick and dimwitted people in this world!

Author: David Holt (rawiri42) from Australia
8 June 2013

The title to this review has nothing whatsoever to do with "The Sessions" - it refers to all those people who wrote reviews about "bad taste" and "porn" who clearly have little or no compassion and probably live in cotton-wool padded suburban houses and enjoy "normal" lifestyles of comfort and security. They make me sick!!

The Sessions is an extremely delicate story that all those wowsers would like to think doesn't happen in real life. Maybe some true justice would be if they had a child who was paralyzed and grew up never knowing what it was like to experience what it took to make them! SEXUAL INTERCOURSE!!! Yes, I said it!! But then, when I look at some of those mean, negative reviews, I notice that most of them are from women and I wonder how many of them are closet lesbians too afraid to stand up and be counted!

I suppose it depends on how one looks at such a sensitive situation as Mark O'Brien's as to how one sees it. What makes them think that such a person should be deprived of what he was clearly able to do with professional help. Does it occur to all those negative thinkers that having sex with a severely handicapped man might not be all fun and games? Amnd, more to the point, does it ever occur to them that, fortunately for such handicapped people, there are people who sincerely want to do something practical to help them? Obviously not! All they see is porn (and, truth be known, probably clandestinely watch it on the Internet when they think no one is watching!)

Yes, The Sessions IS a very different sort of movie But it is well portrayed with a sensitive balance between pathos and humour. If you think that Helen Hunt shouldn't be seen full-frontal naked on screen than don't watch this movie but if you have a desire to see a true story about a sad situation rescued by someone who CAN see past naked flesh and sexual discussion, I believe you will be well-rewarded.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: Raul Faust from Joinville, Brazil
4 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You know, one thing that surprised me is how brave the whole cast was in producing such an unconventional film, given that the subject and the plot as a whole aren't for anyone. People who have handicapped people in their families feel the subject as a delicate issue, so this movie's impression may be a little different, depending on the spectator's personal experiences. It's admirable to see how courageous Helen Hunt was to play such controversial character, specially because she does some nude scenes in a non-traditional kind of relationship. Some scenes are unintentionally funny, such as when the priest has to listen to Mark's confessions involving sex, due to the fact that we all imagine fathers as very conservative people. In my opinion, "The Sessions" is a film that followed a different way of 2004's "Mar adentro", which turned out to be slightly better. However, some elements of the plot felt a little implausible to me, and it ended with some lack of strong moments, which are expected in a drama movie. Recommended movie anyways, even it not flawless.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Good movie, a lot funnier than I thought it should be.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
28 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a somber topic, a 30-something man confined mostly to an iron lung from having had polio back in the 1950s. That struck a chord with me, as I remember attending a high school graduation in the 1950s in my small hometown where one of the students was in an iron lung from his own bout with polio.

But this one is a bit different, in this true story the man's mind was sharp, as well as his sense of humor, and a graduate of U Cal at Berkeley. He wrote poetry, he learned to use his mouth and a stick to punch typewriter keys or work a push button telephone.

John Hawkes has the role of the crippled man, Mark , who was a hopeless romantic and seemed to fall in love with every woman that came into his life. He also wanted to experience a few things that had eluded him so far, the touch of a naked woman and actual sexual intercourse. He was NOT paralyzed, as he explained, his muscles just didn't work so the only thing he could move was his head. Plus his erections were apparently pretty healthy!

Mark happens to find out about Helen Hunt as Cheryl , who calls herself a sex surrogate. As she explains, a prostitute wants your repeat business, but a sex surrogate wants to see you for a maximum of six sessions. Thus the title "The Sessions." From some comments in the DVD extras this seems to be a product of 1950s and 1960s and beyond sex therapists Masters and Johnson.

Part of the humor in the movie is created when Mark goes to visit the new parish Priest, William H. Macy as Father Brendan . Mark is a devout Catholic and worries that he might be embarking on something sinful and seeks Fr Brendan's counsel. As Mark's sex therapy advances there are some interesting and humorous discussions between the two, inside the church building with the altar in the background.

Helen Hunt I suppose should be considered brave to do this role, because it involves more than one scene of full frontal nudity. But it isn't erotic nudity, she is very convincing as a "therapist." Plus she seems to be in fine form at almost 50.

I also enjoyed the role Moon Bloodgood played as one of Mark's caregivers, Vera. She also is very convincing and is made to wear round frame glasses in her role as a Chinese. In real life her mother is Korean and her father is Irish-Dutch, and she is a real "knock out."

Overall a very interesting movie.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: seabass-843-741483 from USA
29 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of Helen Hunts best.

Hunts empathy toward the inflicted man John Hawkes was touching, and moved me.

William Macy was brilliant, as usual. I enjoyed his performance, a truly gifted actor.

John Hawkes, what can I say, but he nailed it.

Director & writer Ben Lewin did a remarkable job telling a heart wrenching story.

Although difficult to watch if your an open wound of emotion like myself, be ready to cry. However I would watch it again.

I have one spoiler, or more than a warning. Helen Hunt's character does appear nude. So if you are offended by nudity you might want to wait until it comes out on basic cable.

The emotional journey is riveting in this movie.

I avoided specific's on purpose' as not to spoil it for a new audience.

This is my first review, I hope it helps this film to reach others.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A truly weird entertainment, yet a touching one indeed

Author: Johan Dondokambey from Indonesia
27 July 2014

The story touches on such rarely discussed subject, sexuality and disabilities, and takes it to one of the most extreme limits it can imagine. I really like the earlier dialog line: "I am a true believer. I believe in a God with a sense of humor, a wicked sense of humor, who created me in His odd image." The fact that dramatization of this movie include William H. Macy's priest character just makes all the utterly hyperbolic and paradoxical nature of this movie the more weird. Yet it kind of succeeded in keeping my curiosity about it, and to keep on watching. Not being a mere predictable, in my opinion this movie was able to do emotion play so well that it was able to steer from a pity inducing movie at the first minutes into one with a glimmer of hope, even though it's in a sense a wrong one. Helen Hunt goes all out to totality with this one in her older years of her career, while John Hawkes only acted out an average performance.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Short on Time...

Author: Howlin Wolf from Oldham, Gtr Manchester, England.
5 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I didn't feel like the scenes went by too quickly, so much as they just focused on the wrong people... It was interesting how the sessions affected his intimacy with other people (Amanda, Vera, and even the girl he met at the end... Susan?) but instead we focus on the more sensational aspects, and his development as a human being kind of gets shortchanged because of it... It makes sex the center of everything, when really it felt more like sex was just the gateway that helped to open up corners of his personality that were previously closed off.

In a similar vein, having him fall in love with his surrogate also reinforced this, and was the wrong move for the movie, I felt (even if that's how it played out, in reality... ) It gives the impression that the emphasis should be on the person you get to have sex with, when really I feel like the companionship is the more important part of it. (I'm disabled myself, if that colours my interpretation of the movie at all, and I have had similar experiences to those depicted in the movie)

Now, technically there was nothing wrong with the story that was told, but I just feel like some tinkering with the elements I mentioned would have made the viewing more fulfilling, for me... We can't all get the movie we want, I guess! Still, what it does cover, it covers well.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Real, raw and touching, but hampered

Author: Daniel Elford from United Kingdom
26 July 2013

Writer and founder of a small press which published works by disabled authors, Mark O'Brien, was struck completely disabled and iron lung- dependent by polio when he was young, and he has a goal: He wants to enjoy the pleasures of a woman before he "reaches his use-by date", as he puts it. The line is delivered by John Hawkes, who plays O'Brien, with both the sense of humour, and the sensitivity, which typifies the handling of the subject matter in 'The Sessions'.

Ben Lewin, whose work has been primarily in TV and documentaries, brings John Hawkes together with Helen Hunt in a screen partnership that has to be one of the most intimate and trusting I have seen between two actors for some time. Hunt was up for an Oscar for her portrayal of professional sex surrogate Cheryl, who takes on the task of helping Mark achieve his goal. Their encounters are beautifully played, with the balance of awkwardness, fear and joy well judged enough that you truly feel in the room. The scenes seem raw and real, and the result of the writing is one of a film which does not snigger, nor encourage sniggering, at the idea of sex on screen; there is a directness, and explicitness about the issue, which to my pleasant surprise, actually manages to underscore the importance of the emotional resonance of sex, and its importance in our life. It would be easy to imagine this simply becomes a dirty joke. To the contrary, the sex is not sexy, but rather functional; the conversations they have and the depiction of Mark's struggle with his journey to manhood, becomes touching. There is something in the way sex is explored that brings to mind what D H Lawrence was trying to do with his infamous classic; rather than nudge and wink, the story looks directly at what sex is and why it matters.

Frustatingly, the direction seems shy of delving into the personal relationships and history of Cheryl; it also seems intent on putting the female form on full show whilst never completely exposing the male at the centre of the story. If this was an artistic choice, I wonder what the aim was; one would assume, in fact, that as the story moves forward, both character would become more exposed. The film also struggles to bring a key character to life; Father Brendan, played by the ever reliable William H. Macy, never seems complete. It is hard to pin down why, because Macy does not do anything wrong, but there is something in the scenes featuring Mark and the priest, which despite some deftly delivered humour, feel tough to buy.

The heart of the film is that central relationship, though. Limited to six sessions, for obvious reasons, we watch an unusual, touching bond grow, and despite the hurried nature of the story arc, it makes 'The Sessions' worth your time.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

An adult film, in the best sense

Author: featherstone-witty from england
19 January 2013

This is probably a poor time to post, since I saw this film yesterday and it still hasn't left me. When you've been watching films for nearly 60 years, you think you've seen everything, but no, you haven't seen this; a film that brings together immobility, sex, religion and vulnerability. The cast play the piece with delicacy and charm, only it doesn't feel like a piece; it feels real. The characters are no throw back to people you've met before; they are fresh; there's a documentary feel. Not a wasted scene and no attention can wander. To talk about the acting is hard because no-one appeared to be acting. It is a memorable experience; one of those cinematic experiences you are grateful to be alive to experience. Yes, it's that good.

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