|Hunt and Hawkes give two of 2012's best performances.|
Directed by Ben Lewin
Produced by Judi Levine, Ben Lewin, and Stephen Nemeth
Written by Ben Lewin (screenplay); Mark O'Brien (article)
Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, Rhea Pearlman, Adam Arkin, and William H. Macy
Inspired by a true story, this film follows a writer named Mark O'Brien (Hawkes), who is condemned to an iron lung for most of his days. Mark contracted polio and is only able to be out of the chamber for a few hours, so he is heavily dependent on a caregiver. What really weighs on him, though, is the fact that he is a virgin. He longs for physical contact and, despite the failure of his muscles, he can still become aroused on his own. So, he gets the approval of a priest (Macy) to see a sex therapist named Cheryl (Hunt) for six sessions. Through her, he learns about his body and develops his sexual knowledge, as it were. It's actually quite humorous, and the film shies away from being too serious, allowing only a few touching dramatic moments.
This is an interesting little film. It's probably too light in its approach to this situation, but the performances make this a must-see. John Hawkes is nothing short of amazing in a role that will likely land him his second Oscar nomination. The same can be said of Helen Hunt, who hasn't been around much lately. Both of these performances are transformative, with the actors never hitting a false note. Not once did I see Hawkes or Hunt in the film. Instead, I saw the characters. The actors are that good. Of course, Macy does what he can with a supporting comedic role, but Bloodgood deserves more attention as Mark's new caregiver. Really, the performances are quite good all round. Despite the superb acting, the film's light tone can at times feel exploitative or too insensitive to Mark's suffering. However, the film remains a bittersweet performance vehicle that merits a look, particularly for the excellent work from Hawkes and Hunt.
Oscar Potential: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (Hunt), Best Adapted Screenplay
Hi Josh, glad you like this one. Yeah it's lighthearted but I don't see it as making 'light' of Mark's situation. The director had polio himself too I believe. The acting is superb all around indeed, I even like the minor character such as Moon Bloodgood as Mark's assistant.ReplyDelete
Fair enough Ruth. Some scenes just felt off to me, or unnecessarily funny. Bloodgood did a great job! :)Delete
It seems like this would be a difficult topic to explore in a way that's neither too light nor overbearingly grim. I'm glad you liked this so much -- I've been looking forward to this movie.ReplyDelete
It's tough to find a balance between the two. I think the film could've gone a bit darker, but that might have changed it entirely.Delete
Hope you like it!
I did hear the film is not as good as performances before, but I really love John Hawkes so I think I'll see it - do you think he will get nominated?ReplyDelete
I think he will get nominated, but Hunt is less of a lock. Ultimately, I see them both getting nominated though.Delete
I agree, great performances, tad too light of a film. They'll both have serious Oscar consideration, but I've all but forgotten about the movie as a whole.ReplyDelete
I'll remember the movie for the performances, so that's something I suppose. I'd even watch it again.Delete