Skip to main content

Review: Pillow Talk (The Sessions)


The word can't is either missing from, or torn out of Mark O'Brien's dictionary. Mark (John Hawkes), despite being a paraplegic, has graduated college, earned his Master's Degree, started his own publishing company and released dozens of books of poetry. In all of that time, however, he has not shared love with a woman. Success has not been missing from his life, yet he feels a hole that should finally be looked at. Even at age 36.

These "based on a true story" tales are often derided for saccharine cliches that inevitably remove all interest from the non-fiction, yet this is not the case for The Sessions.

Mark may be confined to an iron lung and he may not have long, but The Sessions is no tale of woe. There is a sense of warmth infused throughout the film that tempers what could be a very dampened storyline. One of those key sources is William H. Macy as Father Brendan.

Premarital sex is most definitely a no-no in the eyes of the Catholic Church, but how could God begrudge Mark on his quest given everything he has lived with? Whereas Father Brendan is torn about Mark's goal, Cheryl (Helen Hunt) is sure-handed. In six sessions she will provide the advice, training and understanding for Mark to be able to have a successful relationship with a woman.

John Hawkes has always been known as that guy in whatever film he appears. You may not recognize his name, but you know his face. He sent shivers down your spine as the stoic-but-deadly Teardrop in Winter's Bone and the charismatic cult leader Patrick in Martha Marcy May Marlene. That Sessions succeeds as it does with Hawkes as its leading man is another testament to his talents.

Hawkes and Hunt leave nothing on the table in their performances, both prove willing to disappear completely into the respective roles they are given. Blurbs like "outstanding performance" and "guaranteed Oscar nomination" are thrown around quite a bit, but given what little canvas Hawkes is able to use for his role as Mark O'Brien, he really should be commended. Given the physical restraints Hawkes had, he couldn't give loud, grandiose speeches, or wrench himself in tears, so the trembles in his voice and the expression in his eyes must make for everything.

The Sessions may not receive the loads of gold statues that other winter fare will, but if one thing is for sure, the cast shines well enough anyway.

***/****

Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…