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The Sessions Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Heavy breathing lessons. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The Sessions is admirable, and often enjoyable, yet self-limiting in concept. It's exactly about what it sets out to be about - no less but no more.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A moving tale with wryly funny moments.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    At once entirely frank and downright cuddly in the way it deals with the seldom-visited subject of the sex lives of people with disabilities, this well-acted and constructed film will, at the very least, turn the spotlight on this unusual topic.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The Sessions is first and foremost about Hawkes' virtuoso performance, one of those "My Left Foot"-y transformations that make audiences verklemmt and generate awards talk.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

Mature but deeply powerful look at sex and the disabled.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Sessions' story about a man in an iron lung who decides to explore his sexuality with the help of a professional "sex surrogate" isn't appropriate for younger teens. But for mature older teens and adults, it's a film filled with compassion and hope that could provide a lesson about what sex and love mean and what they can bring to anyone's life when approached in a healthy manner. Expect plenty of nudity (including brief glimpses of a woman's private parts and breasts, as well as longer shots of her backside) and frank conversations about sex acts, orgasm, and more. Language is infrequent but includes "f--k" and "s--t."

  • Families can talk about how The Sessions presents sex. What messages is it sending about sex as a part of life? As a part of a relationship? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these topics.
  • Had you ever heard of a sex surrogate before? Why do you think someone might choose this profession?
  • The Sessions also examines a man's relationship with God. How is it depicted here? How does it compare to how Hollywood has handled the subjects of faith and God in other movies?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: The film is compassionate and sensitive to the triumphs and challenges that the disabled community faces. Without condescending, it reminds audiences that everyone has needs and desires that deserve acknowledgement and fulfillment.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Mark O'Brien, a real-life poet and journalist who survived only with the help of an iron lung, is the inspiration for this film, and he's depicted here as a graceful, thoughtful man with much to offer the world. His surrogate soothes his concerns and treats their relationship like any other that requires trust and communication. She also tries to understand what it's like for him to be tied to the iron lung. To her, he's not just a case, nor is he an outsider. She treats him with respect.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Not an issue

  • sex false5

    Sex: A woman's private parts are briefly visible, and her breasts are shown. Her backside is seen often, and there are glimpses of pubic hair. The two main characters are shown attempting to have sex, mostly from the waist up,  while discussing what they're doing and how it feels. Frank sex talk throughout, including references to orgasm.

  • language false3

    Language: One use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "d--k," "crap," "ass," "damn," "oh my God," and more.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue