Oscar-caliber acting shines within 'The Sessions' original story

By Gary Wolcotto, atomictown.comNovember 16, 2012 

The Sessions features John Hawkes' portrayal of real-life journalist/author Mark O'Brien, who spent his life in an iron lung because of polio.

A God-fearing Catholic, O'Brien talks with his priest about losing his virginity. Once the decision is made, O'Brien seeks out sex-surrogate Cheryl Cohen Greene to help him.

Helen Hunt is Greene and William H. Macy plays Father Brendan.

Writer/director Ben Lewin -- who doesn't do many projects -- takes material, poetry and a book written by O'Brien and details this experience and the man's fascinating life philosophy.

The scenes between Hawkes and Hunt are awkward. He's unsure. She's unsure. The philosophical talks between Hawkes and Macy give dimensions to Hawkes' portrayal of O'Brien and connect you to him in interesting ways.

Hawkes and Hunt do several nude scenes and an underlying, awkward tension exists between the two actors.

It doesn't look like they really connect personally -- and that helps make this fascinating story believable.

Alas, this is not yet showing in the Tri-Cities.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Director: Ben Lewin

Stars: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy

Rated R for language, sex, nudity. It is playing at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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