Director: Ben Lewin
Nominated: Best Supporting Actress
The Sessions is a bold film that deals with the mostly unknown subject of sex and disabilities. It’s a sensitive subject matter but Lewin handles it deftly and with dignity. He comes at it in a very frank and matter of fact way which I think is the right approach. Sex is a natural part of life and everyone partakes in it so why should it be any different for someone with a disability? It makes you stop and consider another aspect of life and how you take certain things for granted.
William H Macy is a solid presence as the Catholic priest who befriends Mark, severely disabled due to catching polio at a young age, offering him advice and guidance not just as his priest but more importantly as his friend.
Helen Hunt is magnificent as Cheryl, the sex therapist. She treats Mark as a human being, actually and whole, rather than a disability. She sees Mark for who he is, his wonderful personality, instead of his useless body. It does not surprise me that she has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress although as there is really no other female lead in the film it would make more sense for her to be nominated in the Best Actress category. I suppose it’s a way of getting around the limitations for nominating when you have too many for one category.
What does surprise me is that John Hawkes has not been nominated for his performance as Mark, as he holds the whole film together. Mark is charismatic and endearing in his honesty and the relationships he forms throughout the film. None more so than with Cheryl, who obviously plays an enormous part in his lie. He’s got an excellent, dry sense of humor which makes the film an enjoyable watch. I can imagine it was fairly challenging to play Mark in that he is 90% immobile. I lose count of all the times my body moves by itself in a day so it must have been physically exhausting to remain immobile while filming. Hats off to Hawkes he did an excellent job.
Sure the ending is somewhat teary but doesn’t detract from the uplifting tone of the film as a whole. I enjoyed The Sessions and came away from it with a new perspective on a subject that I had never really given much thought to before.