Friday, October 12, 2012

Milwaukee Film Festival Day 15: The Sessions

The closing night film of the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival was The Sessions.

The Sessions is based on the true story of Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes) a poet who after getting polio as a child spends most of his day in an iron lung.  He is able to spend about 4 hours a day outside the iron lung and must have an assistant push him around in a gurney.  He spends most of his time outside at a church where he becomes friends with Father Brendan (William H. Macy).  After he gets an assignment to write about sex and disabled people he decides at the age of 36 it is time to lose his virginity.  Someone recommends he uses a sex surrogate named Cheryl (Helen Hunt).  Cheryl tells him that her maximum is only 6 sessions but the emotional connection between the two makes it complicated. 

The movie could be considered a romantic comedy but not your typical romantic comedy.  It is quite funny and emotional but has some unusual twists and turns.  Mark O'Brien's sense of humor about his situation keeps the movie light even as he struggles to fill that void he has in his life. 

John Hawkes gives an amazing performance and it is one that might finally get him the recognition he deserves after giving great performances in Winters Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene. He makes you forget about Marks physical disabilities and all you see is  his emotional vulnerability and his great sense of humor.  Helen Hunt gives another great performance on par with her Oscar winning performance in As Good as it Gets and William H. Macy is great as usual. 

Overall 5/5 Great performances, great story, and well written.  Look for some Oscar nominations for this one. 

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