[Editor's note: Glenn of Stale Popcorn fame is back to report from Melbourne Iwith a look at an Oscar hopeful that's been working the festival circuit all year - Nathaniel]
I suspect it will be easy for cynical audiences to look upon Ben Lewin’s The Sessions as merely a hurdle to get over this upcoming awards season. Yes, it’s about a man with a disability and, yes, it co-stars Helen Hunt, but the mere fact that it got made at all makes it an important film whether you consider it good or not. Given Hollywood’s fussy attitude towards sex (particularly the sex that makes us feel good), it’s strange to see so much talk about The Sessions (nee Six Sessions, nee The Surrogate) in regards to the Academy Awards. That the film is about sex and disabilities and religion, and examines it with maturity and gentle pathos, just makes Lewin’s film that much more of an anomaly worth exploring.
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) stars as Mark O’Brien, a real life figure who lived with Polio into his 40s who has already been the subject of one Oscar-winning movie already. If the rest of the plot – O’Brien hires a “sex surrogate” to lose his virginity – elicits giggles from the viewer then that’s a-okay since the film and the man have a sense of humour. Yes, you know where it’s going, but it's so refreshing to see this topic played out openly that it’s almost hard to care.
The Sessions, for me, most resembled Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids are All Right. [more after the jump]