Starring: John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets), William H. Macy (Fargo), Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation)
Director/Writer: Ben Lewin (Georgia)
Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes
Release Date: 19 October (US), 18 January (UK)
I got the great opportunity to go to the UK premiere of The Sessions last night; director Ben Lewin and stars John Hawkes and Helen Hunt were in attendance and gave a Q&A afterwards. But enough of my bragging, how was the movie? Simply put, The Sessions is one of the best films of 2012 and needs to be seen by anyone who enjoys film.
The story of The Sessions is, while based on a true story, humorously absurd. The film is very well written and full of some cracking quotable dialogue (“Why go to Germany? It’s the only place in the world where having a sense of humour is illegal.”) The pace of the film is just right; not so fast that it flies by, but not so slow that you start checking your watch. But the main reason the film works is because it makes the main character of Mark (Hawkes) completely sympathetic and compelling. It’s easy for a film like this to just go “He’s disabled, so you have to like him”, but the film makes Mark such an interesting character that he would have been a great protagonist if he had been a perfectly healthy human being.
But the main reason Mark works as a protagonist is because of the powerhouse performance of Hawkes. For an actor who spends the entire movie only moving his head, he brings so much to the table here that you can’t help but cry “Give this man an Oscar!”. Just as great is Hunt in the role of Cheryl; she greatly compliments Hawkes and they have really good chemistry. By the end of the movie, you are really hoping that their relationship will work out, but you know it can’t. As the main comic relief of the film, William H. Macy is fantastic as Mark’s priest. His deadpan delivery and incompetence create some knee-slapping moments that help to alleviate the more heartfelt moments.
On a technical level, there’s not much to say. The film is shot well, but there’s no amazing camera work. The music is fitting, but not exactly memorable. But The Sessions isn’t that kind of film; it’s trying to wow you with its drama, not its technical wizardry.
I can’t say this enough: The Sessions is one of the best movies of the year and should be seen at your earliest opportunity. The film doesn’t open for a while in the UK, but as soon as it does get to the theatre. You won’t regret it.
FINAL VERDICT: 9.5/10