Mark is a 38 year-old man who suffers from Pollio, leaving his muscles incredibly weak and in need of an iron lung in order to survive. Mark has sexual urges like any other person and with the aid of his therapist and priest, mark sets out to experience sexual pleasure and lose his virginity. Based on a true story, Ben Lewin's The Sessions is heartfelt portrait of an incredible strong-willed man in Mark. John Hawkes plays Mark to perfection, really capturing the incredible character of Mark, a man who maintains an upbeat personality and a sense of humor, even when facing the horrible conditions which Pollio brings. Given the subject matter, the film takes a rather light-hearted approach, using tons of humor and a generally light tone to tell Mark's story. While there is no denying the tenderness of the film, The Sessions is rather limited to its story and relies heavily on John Hawkes' great performance. Being one of, if not the only film to touch on sexuality within the disabled community, the film has a nice theme about the relationship between relgion and sex, yet it never spends the time to explore it, opting instead for a more traditional narrative approach. My biggest problem with The Sessions is that at times some of the characters decisions, particularly Helen Hunt's character Cheryl, his sex therapist, don't feel organic, as if they are made to simply drive the story forward. The semi-relationship that unfolds between Cheryl and Mark isn't as subtle as it could have been and quite frankly comes off as unnecessary. The Sessions is rather conventional in structure as well as cinematography and direction but there is no denying the feel good nature of the story. In the end The Sessions is a film that lives and dies with its lead performance but luckily for the director, John Hawkes is a incredible talent.
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