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“The Sessions” (2012) Review

It’s hard to describe “The Sessions” as anything but an unusual, no-boundaries drama with bits of comedy. Based on previews, I was expecting the film to be more comedy-driven than drama, but I will give you a heads-up – “The Sessions” is a drama at heart, with pieces of comedy littered throughout. Don’t go into the film expecting a laugh-filled ride, as you will likely be disappointed if you do.

In reviewing this film, I must praise the writing. The film has some of the most well-written dialogue this year. The bits of humor are smart and memorable, and will always have you laughing (it’s a shame there wasn’t more of this humor throughout the film). The parts of the film that focus more on drama and character interaction still have the great writing, though they just don’t have the depth to propel the film forward.

To further enhance the writing, the cast wonderfully capture the characters being portrayed. John Hawkes delivers an outstanding performance that should be considered for an Oscar – the feeling he captures and delivers, all from a supine position, is incredible. Even each member playing the smaller roles are great at playing their characters. Plus, I’ve been a fan of William H. Macy since “Fargo”, and he is still a great actor.

John Hawkes is outstanding as Mark O’Brien, delivering one of the best performances of the year.

Where the film runs into trouble is after about the 20-minute mark. The comedy dies down and the film becomes a character drama. The overall plot is unique, but at times, the characters themselves just don’t make the story compelling enough on their own,  and at a few points the story seems to lose its way. It certainly isn’t boring or bad, it is just average. Though when the comedy kicks back in at times, and especially when it is heavily present in the beginning segments, the film soars.

Two things I can’t really go into much detail on are the cinematography and the soundtrack. What little there is in the way of a soundtrack is unremarkable. Whereas the cinematography is standard as well. This kind of movie doesn’t really open itself up to great camera work or stunning visuals (unless, of course, you have a strong desire to see Helen Hunt nude for 1/3 of a film). There is one or two interesting shots, but on the whole, nothing stands out on the production end.

Overall, “The Sessions” is a movie caught between two spectrums. On one hand, it is a surprisingly original comedy that has the right components to be great. On the other, it is a drama that misses its mark. The writing and acting carry the film through some of the less-interesting moments, and when the film hits its stride, it can be great. The problem is that it just can’t seem to find its identity.

Final Score: 6.2/10


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