The Sessions ★★½

This is an actors' piece, for sure, especially given that most of Lewin's flourishes are unfortunate choices, so I'll say that Helen Hunt is quite strong here. Hers is a performance that is at once free-spirited and heartbreakingly defensive. She captures the impossibility of completely professionalizing sex, which is probably the film's most interesting notion. Hawkes is somewhat less inspired, never really turning his character's reticence into something more than a punchline. He's playing someone who is likeable, but bland. It's telling that most of our insight into his character comes via his therapist's observations. The first session that these two share is extremely well-done and carefully paced, but it's also the film's obvious high point, with most of what follows coming off as rather redundant. It is as if Lewin was convinced that a frank, wry attitude toward sex was material enough to hang the film on. The unrequited romance that creates the central tension here requires no small amount of deck-stacking (e.g. making the husband an oaf), undoing the sense of candor that preceded it.