“The kitsch factor is weirdly in keeping with the picture’s ardent, disarming sincerity. Even at its most risible, this oddball movie has a groovy, inclusive spirit that feels downright revolutionary.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“The key is not to take CLOUD ATLAS too seriously. If you try to invest yourself in the sci-fi framework or the Wachowski-esque philosophical theory, you’ll be too busy chewing on sand rather than eating up the goodies.” – Norm Schrager, Meet In The Lobby

“This is not just a movie. It’s a cinematic mural, and while its elements may sometimes clash a bit, the overall form is really rather lovely.” – Kilian Melloy, Kal’s Movie Blog

“The year’s most ambitious film, one that will divide critics as well as audiences. You will either be enthralled or bored beyond tears. Given its nearly three hour running time, you’d best be prepared.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, The Sci-Fi Movie Page

“As it took up residence in my memory, my relationship with this film simply grew. I liked CLOUD ATLAS when it ended. But by the next day, I had fallen in love.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“It looks like the short segments were put together by an editor wearing a blind fold and watching it gives audiences the kind of motion sickness feeling one gets trying to read a book in a moving car.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“At first, the frequent jumping between time periods is a bit jarring, but it quickly becomes second nature as you get invested in each one of the individual stories.” – Evan Crean, Reel Recon

“Not just one of the best movies of the year, but one of the most ambitious and audicious in a year that has been big on ambitious and audacious.” – Bob Chipman, The Escapist



“Just as the melodrama gains traction we cut to a coda and the credits. It runs a scant 85 minutes, and feels unfinished.” – Jake Mulligan, The Boston Phoenix




“Such an earnest little puddle of feel-good inspiration that I feel like an  asshole for disliking it so much.” – Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly

“This is a movie not about sexual exploitation, but rather about sexual healing.” – Kilian Melloy, Kal’s Movie Blog

“It is entirely daring in what it chooses to show, but rather tame in what it chooses to say.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune



“A Lifetime movie with some actual life to it, lending tender observation to the idea that dreams are sitting out there waiting to be seized.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“An acting range that seems more suited to pouting on the fashion runway than performing as a fully fledged character.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide

“A coming-of-age story which should end with the young boy becoming a young man. Unfortunately, fate had other ideas. As the old saying goes, God writes lousy theater.” – Daniel M. Kimmel,



“It’s like watching a recording of someone else playing a video game. You have no control and you have nothing invested in the characters or the outcome.” – Daniel M. Kimmel, The Sci-Fi Movie Page

“It’s more of the same, on a cut-rate budget, without Gans’s atmospheric reverie.” – Brett Michel, The Boston Phoenix

“A full-on, visceral thrill ride that uses 3D technology to throw buckets of blood and gore at the audience with gleeful abandonment.” – John Black, Boston Event Guide



“Crud. Perfectly unpleasant fluff that offers a few good moments in a mess of horrible ones.” – Greg Vellante, The Eagle Tribune

“If your ‘tweens and young teens are into the offerings on Nickelodeon and Disney then they’ll enjoy this, but there is stuff that parents may find surprising and even disturbing.” – Daniel M. Kimmel,



Winner of the Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, writer-director Ben Lewin’s new movie THE SESSIONS stars John Hawkes as poet and journalist Mark O’Brien, paralyzed since childhood after a bout of polio and confined to an iron lung.  How he moves – philosophically, mentally, emotionally– from a place of exclusion to one of participation is the journey the film traces.

Lewin visited Boston last month for a luncheon promoting the film. BOFCA’s own Kilian Melloy spoke to the filmmaker about how sometimes the best reaction is no reaction.

THE SESSIONS touches upon a multitude of charged topics with maturity and sensitivity. Offered this assessment, Lewin, a kindly man in his mid-60s, answered with a self-deprecating smile, “Well, I can lay claim to maturity in any case.”

Lewin is the son of Polish émigrés who settled in Australia in his boyhood. Like O’Brien, Lewin suffered polio in childhood. He was left needing crutches, but Lewin is perfectly able to live an ordinary life; indeed, his life has extraordinary, given that the former lawyer switched careers and moved to England to become a successful filmmaker.

“I was developing this sitcom called THE GIMP that was to have some politically incorrect humor,” Lewin explained. “The main character trades the use of his disabled [parking] placard for sex!”

“I was online doing research about sex and the disabled, and kept coming up with stuff like ‘Gimp Girls Gone Wild,’ ” Lewin continued. “And then I found Mark O’Brien’s article, ‘On Seeing A Sex Surrogate.’ ” Inspiration struck, and Lewin was off and running.

In one of the movie’s funniest scenes, O’Brien conducts an interview with a wheelchair-bound woman. His attendant, Vera, played by Moon Bloodgood, runs a tape recorder as the woman rattles off a list of favorite sexual practices. Vera seems as shocked to hear about the kinds of sex this woman enjoys as she is to discover that someone in a wheelchair could be having sex in the first place.

The actress was uncertain about how to convey Vera’s responses, so “I told her to do nothing,” Lewin chuckled. “Nothing is the best reaction.”

Another fine actor featured in the film is William H. Macy, who plays O’Brien’s priest, Father Brendan. At first, Macy’s man of the cloth –who is “a Berkeley hippie priest,” Lewin notes — is deeply troubled by the idea of intercourse with a sex therapist. But as Father Brendan gazes at the crucifix hanging above the altar of his church, he seems to hear an answer from The Divine: “Go for it,” he tells O’Brien.

Cheryl is played by Helen Hunt, who is fearless about taking off her clothes for the camera. Hunt is in her middle years, with crow’s feet and fine lines and other signs of her age, but the comfortable, confident way she inhabits her skin makes her nothing short of gorgeous. Her “sex surrogate” incorporates sexual passion and clinical professionalism in equal measures; Cheryl is direct, without being crass. Similarly, the sex scenes are not explicit, but neither are they camouflaged. The effect is less erotic than tender and affecting.

Hunt “had no objections to the part in principle,” Lewin said, but “it was a process to get to a place in her head where she could play the role. She asked me how I was going to film the sex scenes and I said, ‘In the same way as the rest of the film, no special angles or techniques.’ ”

That decision underscores the naturalness of sexuality as presented in THE SESSIONS. But Hunt’s process of getting comfortable took an unconventional turn when she tried out different positions, albeit fully clothed, on her own bed at home with the film’s cameraman.

Wait — the cameraman?

“The cameraman is the closest one to the action,” Lewin explained with a smile.

THE SESSIONS opens Friday, October 26th in Boston area theatres.