Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
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
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
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


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Review Of 2014: The 15 Best Cameos Of The Year
Our favourite one-scene movie-stealers

8 Things You Can Learn From The BFI's Star Wars Exhibition
The original crawl, a 'grotesque' villain and a very different princess

Review Of The Year: 40 Worst Posters Of 2014
One-sheets that you'd rather not have on your wall

Hobbit Q&As: Ian McKellen On Finally Saying Goodbye And Farewell To Gandalf The Grey
Read our exclusive Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies interviews

Review Of 2014: The Best TV Moments Of The Year
We celebrate the small screen's biggest scenes

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each 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  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)