Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Sessions (2012)

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Helen Hunt

Maybe it was the Boston accent that was all too reminiscent of Kevin Costner's in Thirteen Days, maybe it was the unsteady plotting, or maybe I was just more impressed with John Hawkes, but I just wasn't as taken away with Helen Hunt's performance in The Sessions as everyone else seemed to be.  This isn't to say her performance was bad (accent aside), she's actually quite solid in the film and deserved the positive notices she received.  Hunt's performance allowed the audience to feel understanding toward her character, a character who in the hands of a lesser actress might have left viewers cold and judgmental.  Yet due to the limitations of her character rooted in the imperfect screenplay by writer/director Ben Lewin, Hunt wasn't able to bring much unexpected to the role, and I'm left confused by the buzz around her performance.

The problems with The Sessions, namely uneven pacing and unnecessary scenes involving secondary characters, both stem from the screenplay.  Lewin's script has some sharp and witty dialogue, and it deserves credit for creating sufficient sympathy toward the characters to understand their unique circumstances without resorting to pity.  Lewin also faced the challenge of adapting a feature length film from an article and a short film, and perhaps these scenes were added to help the film reach an appropriate run length for a feature film.  Whatever the reason for their inclusion, these scenes left the script with the feel of an early draft in need of additional polishing.

The Sessions is a nice little film, and the performances by both the leads, as well as a pleasant supporting role from William H. Macy, makes the film worth a watch.  However, the film feels to be lacking enough material to justify a feature film, and perhaps would have been better off as a short.

Remaining: 3157 films, 874 Oscars, 5427 nominations

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