The Kidd Vs. THE SESSIONS
THE SESSIONS is the true story of Mark O’Brien, a poet paralyzed by polio who’d like to lose his virginity during the time he has left. He’s long outlived the predictions for his life expectancy and, as a 38-year-old man who has to spend most of his day trapped inside an iron lung, he doesn’t know how much time he’s going to have left to make something like that happen. He wishes it was as easy as finding someone who would fall in love with him both emotionally and physically, but, with his body as cripped as it is, that’s a bit of a tough sell, even with a mind as sharp as his.
In this case, O’Brien (played by the always solid John Hawkes) struggles with disobeying his own strong Catholic faith, in order to have sex out of wedlock, yet once he gets a pass from his local priest (William H. Macy, who looks and feels plenty miscast here), he’s got a plan to achieve his goal – a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt), which sounds like a prostitute, but apparently there’s a therapeutic distinction between them. This puts O’Brien on a path to exploring his body, his feelings and his relationships as they relate to his own sexual inexperience.
THE SESSIONS is really light fare, and while Hawkes elevates the film with his performance, Ben Lewin’s movie feels at times like empty calories. You’ll feel nice watching it in the moment, but the second it’s done, you’re left craving something a bit more substantial. In fact, the film breezes by at a swift 94 minutes that by the time Hawkes is staring intercourse in the face, it feels as if the movie just started. Everything moves along rather quickly that Lewin’s film is a missed opportunity to really examine some of the internal conflicts O’Brien is having beyond what’s on the surface or some of the strife Hunt’s Cheryl is experiencing at home, which pushes her towards a more personal connection with Hawke’s character. It never seems to stop long enough to let you take in the peculiarity of this real life situation or what its characters are going through as a result of being part of it. THE SESSIONS, at times, is flippant in its approach to O’Brien’s ordeal, as, if it wasn’t for the iron lung and his disability, the same situation could have been played up for bigger laughs in a raunchy sex comedy.
When THE SESSIONS does allow itself to get deep, namely with O’Brien’s struggles to differentiate sex from love, attachment, infatuation, that’s where the film shines, and Hawkes does his best work. He’s able to show the complications of a grown man who’s really no more knowledgeable in the realm of sex as a teenage boy. He conflates the physical with the emotional, and it makes for an interesting depiction of a man who is incredibly bright, just not when it comes to the things he knows nothing about. The film does him a disservice at times by poking fun at his fears of the unknown, specifically his frightening perusal of sex textbooks for how things work and the worst case scenarios that could pop up, and, while there may be a whimsy about these moments that allow the film from getting too serious, it’s that missing seriousness that would have grounded the film in the reality it came from. I don’t know that it’s comical that a grown man relegated to an iron lung for much of his life (he can stay outside for three or four hours at a time with a respirator handy without issue) experiences some missteps in wanting to have sex. That’s like laughing at the mentally handicapped when they face some sort of difficulty in achieving one of their dreams. THE SESSIONS walks a very fine line in trying to have its cake and eat it, too, and I’m not really sure it succeeds in doing so, because of how it often plays some of its moments for very small laughs, but laughs nonetheless.
Hawkes is a pleasure to watch as always, and a snarky Moon Bloodgood makes the most of her part, but I’m just not a fan of how the entire film comes together. There’s a made-for-TV atmosphere to it throughout, and, if not for its recognizable cast, it could easily pass for something you would’ve seen on the ABC Family Channel (well, the sex and nudity would pose a problem in taking that avenue, too). I wouldn’t be surprised to parts of THE SESSIONS get their share of the love come awards season, but this one just didn’t do it for me.
"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"
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Oct. 18, 2012, 3:17 p.m. CST
quote from movie
Oct. 18, 2012, 3:25 p.m. CST
by Nice Marmot
I't spelled Moops.
Oct. 18, 2012, 3:27 p.m. CST
by Righteous Brother
about half an hour ago.
Oct. 18, 2012, 3:30 p.m. CST
I had to re-read that line a couple of times to really appreciate it.
Oct. 18, 2012, 3:35 p.m. CST
So we have this guy, right, and he's never had sex. Like 40yr old virgin! Yeah, only lets make our guy 38. Oh, so he meets the girl of his dreams? No, lets have him find a professional. Oh, so it's like Pretty Woman? Sick man meets a hooker with a heart of gold. Yeah, but lets not make her a hooker. Lets call her a sex....um... Surrogate! Sounds great. Maybe she gets pissed as a reacurring joke people keep calling her a prostitute. Yeah, but I don't want to make this a straight up comedy. You swinging for Oscar gold? No, but maybe a Golden Globe. You know, the smug awards. Well, who can we get to star? Tom Hanks? Brad Pitt? Helen Mirren as the surrogate? More like Helen Hunt. If were going for the Globes than we gotta do this low budget. Throw in William H Macy as a priest and we got ourselves a film.
Oct. 18, 2012, 3:39 p.m. CST
by Terry Powell
...seems to love having sex with gimps. I'm referring to The Waterdance not Hank Azaria, by the way.
Oct. 18, 2012, 4:30 p.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2012, 4:30 p.m. CST
what freakin year is this set in???
Oct. 18, 2012, 4:37 p.m. CST
by I am_NOTREAL
She's nominally less irritating when playing lighter stuff but man, something about her just grates on me. I thought her Oscar winning performance was frankly shit. So I won't be seeing this. But this is by far the most negative opinion I've seen, most other reviews have Hawkes and Hunt short listed for Oscar.
Oct. 18, 2012, 4:52 p.m. CST
On Monday, you guys will finally get around to reporting what's already being reported by many others that the Justice League movie is slated by WB to be released in 2015. I remember that there was pride by you guys being on top of things, now you just let everyone else do the work, report it days later and then act like you guys are still up to date on all movie news going on.
Oct. 18, 2012, 5:03 p.m. CST
by Fries Against
Oct. 18, 2012, 8:30 p.m. CST
You're PAYING this guy??? He obviously doesn't even proofread. You're getting ripped off. Find out how much it will cost you to get Massa, Capone and Quint back. And maybe write a few yourself.
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:04 p.m. CST
Hawkes will always be that nervous store worker from the first 10 minutes of 'Dusk till Dawn' to me ... Love that scene.
Oct. 18, 2012, 9:49 p.m. CST
Dear God no, anything but that. The Kidd is okay, not great but good enough -- the great are long gone from this site. I don't understand why people are so down on him, but at his absolute worst, he is better than Harry at his absolute best. In fact, I've completely stopped reading Harry. I just can't deal with him anymore (and I've been a regular reader of this site for some 14 years.)
Oct. 18, 2012, 10:25 p.m. CST
Oct. 18, 2012, 10:31 p.m. CST
I loves me a mustachioed Helen Hunt!
Oct. 18, 2012, 11:08 p.m. CST
Oct. 19, 2012, 12:33 a.m. CST
A prostitute takes your money to fuck you. They don't care about your mental or physical health outside of passing on STDs, and even then it can be iffy. Sex for pay is the sum total of the relationship. A sexual surrogate works with a therapy team or as a therapist themselves to get at the root of psycho-sexual dysfunction. Better mental health for pay is the sum total of the relationship. So you see how your generalization is completely incorrect?
Oct. 19, 2012, 4:36 a.m. CST
by Fries Against
Oct. 19, 2012, 7:16 a.m. CST
A fivehead? Ha, that's funny!
Oct. 19, 2012, 8:56 a.m. CST
which, obviously in a movie, doesn't work. It's not ''tv acting,'' which I think of as just kind of grossly exaggerated. There's something very theatrical about her performances; something about her expressions and the way she reads her lines I guess. I can't put my finger on it, at least not in a way that differentiates it from ''tv acting'' or ''bad acting'' (she's definitely not bad), but whatever it is, it's grating to me.
Oct. 19, 2012, 9:15 a.m. CST
The Sessions is a grown up movie that treats it's subject in a frank and grown up way. Never been a fan of Hunt but when you can get past the botoxed forehead she's the best here she's been since As Good As It Gets. Bloodgood and Macy do good work and Hawkes is phenomenal, even by his standards. It's funny and moving and never lags or feels rushed. A perfect package. Love the suggestion of Macy looking and feeling miscast. 1 how do you miscast an actor of Macy's talent. 2 presumably the Kidd thought since he was playing a Catholic priest he ought to look austere and perhaps a touch dodgy? They don't go for a stereotype here, exactly one of the smart moves of this smart film (as is having the sex surrogate not be a 20-something babe). The Kidd lives up to his name with ths review, you should make him stand in the corner with a dunces hat on.
Oct. 19, 2012, 12:16 p.m. CST
That hair is amazing in the poster! John Hawke's character should have sex with THAT. Maybe William H. Macy's hair could go on and star in a movie with Affleck's hair from 'Argo'. It could be set in a prison. Macy's hair just got in the pokey and Affleck's hair must protect it from Ving Rhame's bald pate. However, protection in prison comes with a lice...I mean price.
Oct. 19, 2012, 12:29 p.m. CST
How can you review the movie without mentioning Helen Hunt's performance? And the obtuse remark about there "apparently" being a difference between surrogate and prostitute? WTF man?
Oct. 19, 2012, 12:30 p.m. CST
Oct. 19, 2012, 12:31 p.m. CST
Nordling has had at least one sexual experience, so maybe pass this kind of movie on to him next time. Kay sport?
Oct. 19, 2012, 3 p.m. CST
Oct. 19, 2012, 3:01 p.m. CST
Oct. 19, 2012, 3:01 p.m. CST
Dec. 1, 2012, 9:08 a.m. CST
Hawkes was fantastic in this role. He will definitely be nominated and may sneak a win. With that said...it felt empty...something was missing. It wasn't terrible but very over rated.
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