Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register now to see X-Men: First Class!
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
John Hawkes
Helen Hunt
William H. Macy
Moon Bloodgood
W. Earl Brown
Adam Arkin.
Directors
Ben Lewin.
Screenwriters
Ben Lewin.
Running Time
95 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
You & Me Forever
4 Star Empire Rating
An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker
4 Star Empire Rating
Cupcakes
3 Star Empire Rating
Looking For Light: Jane Bown
3 Star Empire Rating
Exhibition
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating
Calvary
5 Star Empire Rating
Wake In Fright
5 Star Empire Rating
Stranger By The Lake
5 Star Empire Rating
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
5 Star Empire Rating

The Sessions
Sexual healing


submit to reddit


Plot
Polio survivor Mark O’Brien (Hawkes) has battled to earn a university degree and forge a writing career, but he has never had sex. On a psychologist’s advice and with the blessing of his parish priest (Macy), Mark engages sex therapist Cheryl (Hunt) to lead him through the losing of his virginity in six sessions.


Review
The Sessions
What might so easily have been embarrassing, titillating or patronising is instead tender, nicely life-affirming and wryly, drily humorous — the story of journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, based on an article of his, and written and directed by 66 year-old seasoned TV director Ben Lewin, who survived polio with some disability himself. The Sessions, which starts when O’Brien is commissioned to write a feature about the sex lives of the disabled and it gets him thinking about what he’s missing, dares to tackle that part of life with extraordinary frankness.

The exceptional John Hawkes, who has belatedly received major recognition since Deadwood and his Oscar-nominated turn in Winter’s Bone, has a gift of a role and makes the most of it, mainly immobile on his back on a gurney and frequently in an iron lung or on a respirator. It’s all there, though, the desire, despair, complexity and beauty of a poetic soul who strives to experience as much as he can, including intimacy with another human being. The film’s big accomplishment is making everyone a real human, the tone well judged, the performances uniformly excellent, including Adam Arkin as Cheryl’s laidback husband (very 1980s Berkeley, California). Helen Hunt is lovely, warm and impressively comfortable in her skin, and William H. Macy is aces as the liberal Catholic priest and confidant whose compassion allows him to advise the devout Mark, “I think God would say, ‘Go for it.’”

But the journey, while sensitively done and undeniably moving, is a tad pat in an ‘inspirational, feelgood’ TV movie-but-with-nudity way. One cannot help but think, also, of other disabled-but-indomitable films such as The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, The Sea Inside and My Left Foot (Mark types with a stick in his mouth). Post-London 2012 Paralympics, people may be more aware of and sensitive to the hopes, dreams and capabilities of the disabled, but not absolutely everyone will want to know about sexual mechanics for the severely disabled in quite such clinical detail. Although, naturally, one is happy the man was able to get it on.


Verdict
Formulaic but uplifting, positive and accessible. Fairly graphic sex is handled as tastefully as one is ever likely to see in a crowdpleaser.


Reviewed by Angie Errigo

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Sessions
Empire Star Rating

RE: Good film elevated by great performances

A review from the Guardian which seems pretty positive, but personally I think John Hawkes and Helen Hunt need more recognition for this film as there performances were outstanding http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=3563792 ... More

Posted by SarahBanks195 at 10:44, 28 January 2013 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire 300th Issue: The Directors' Cut Cover
Spielberg, Whedon, Fincher, Abrams Mann and more take over

Fired! Losing Your Job In The Movies
The lowdown on getting dismissed on film

20 Not So Super '-Men' That Won't Star In A Film Any Time Soon
Forget your Batmen, your Spider-Men and your Ant-Men… Meet 3-D Man (and his pals)

The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)