Based on a true story The Sessions is based on the experiences of severely disabled man Mark O’Brien, who despite living the majority of his life in an iron long, at the age of 39 decides he wants to have sexual experiences, and calls upon the services of a sex surrogate.
The Sessions is filled with stellar performances most notably from John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. While all perform well, it is Hunt that deserves all the credit for the film, because not only does she deliver a highly likeable performance, but at almost fifty, she must face one of the biggest fears of an actors career, she spends a large proportion of her screen time naked.
Sadly for The Sessions, French movie Untouchable has created a bar for movies about the severely disabled, and The Sessions just fails to meet that bar. Performance is not the key to a great movie; it’s the screenplay, and writer/director Ben Lewin was obviously faced with an incredibly difficult job of trying to get that right. While from a look and feel perspective he wins, the script needs a lot of work still. The movie fails to successfully, and emotionally grasp how big a hurdle this is in the life of Mark, so rather than feeling for him, and his life, you have that feeling like you have just walked into the room half way into a story, as his journey begins.
Movies of late (Untouchable being the exception) seem to lack the human emotion that we got from movies made during the 60’s-90’s; its like we the audience are expected to just see a character and automatically have empathy for them, without the need to feel what it is to be in their body. To do this is one of the most difficult tasks in the film industry, and this is why in days passed the same writers were behind the same screenplays, or had some sort of common link. The Sessions is an important movie, a story that needs telling, but it just fails to hit the mark correctly, it has moments of humour, moments of sadness, but it lacks any real depth, and most importantly it lacks the power required to make the viewer shed a tear.
The Sessions is in UK cinemas from January 8th.