The Sessions Blu-ray Review
This 1.85:1 AVC encoded transfer is everything you would expect from a modern day transfer to Blu-ray. It's sharp, crisp and vibrant. Although the overall image can at times feel a little dark, for the most part it's clear and precise. Blacks are rich and deep, and the shadow detail is excellent, drawing your eye deep into the image. Just look at William H Macy's robes, though black, each fold is pristinely clear and obviously visible. There's a warmth to the grading too which is welcome. The scene in which Mark's new carer brings him to the park is thoroughly rich and clean looking. The dappled light through the trees as Mark looks up is a perfect example of this video presentation's clarity.
Detail on the whole is exceptional. Close ups have no gremlins to hide, and the texturing of clothing and fine detail is brilliant. Contrast wise, it's near perfect too. In fact I'm desperately struggling to find much at fault here at all. Although we're getting more and more used to seeing incredible video presentations with Blu-ray material, there's even the odd occassion here that I found myself raising an eyebrow at the quality on display. No defects from the transfer that I could spot at all, no banding, no evidence of DNR - It's about as good as it gets as far as visual quality goes.
Once again subject matter limits the overal creativity you can expect in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. It's impeccable, but it doesn't go much beyond the realms what's required of it. Dialogue is crisp and clear, and never gets muddied or drowned out despite Hawkes's nasal and soft delivery. Ambiences are subtle and properly occupy the surrounds where appropriate. The score is delivate and light, and perfectly accompanies the style and tone of the movie. It's never overbearing or needy as far as scores go, opting more for the subtle touch. It works.
You're never going to find this rocking your sub or spellbinding you with dazzling surround use, but it's completely solid nonetheless. On the whole, the sound mix is decent, and leaves nothing to be desired given the material the film deals with.
As far as extras go, it's really not a bad offering, though I suspect that producers chopped things up into smaller segments to make the package seem a little heftier than it really is. Still, some very interesting stuff on offer here.
A couple of scenes that never made the cut, it's easy to see why. About 3 minutes on the whole here.
Theatrical Featurettes - A lot of these could quite easily have been rolled into one. Instead, producers have opted to cut things up into bite-sized pieces.
- Writer/Director Ben Lewin finds inspiration - Spend 5 minutes with the director and cast musing over how the movie came about
- John Hawkes becomes Mark O'Brien - 5 minutes of deserved praise for John Hawkes' portrayal of Mark O'Brien from the cast and director.
- Helen Hunt as the Sex Surrogate - 4 minutes of discussion on sex surrogacy and how Helen Hunt grew into the role. There's even a comment or two from the actual sex surrogate that worked with Mark in real life. Intriguing how close Helen Hunt based her character on her, right down to the accent.
- A Session with the Cast - Just under 4 minutes of further discussion on the movie from the cast and director.
- The Women who loved Mark O'Brien - Another 4 minutes on the female interests that come and go in mark's life.
All in all, around 40 minutes of extras here. I do feel a little cheated by the way things are laid out to make it look like there's more than there really is.
The beautiful and captivating story of a man trapped in a body that does not work, with a sharp wit and talented mind to keep him company. Mark O'Brien's story of how he became involved in an unusual situation that revolved around him losing his virginity after 38 years of being a virgin. It's warm, funny, touching and heart-felt. At times saddening and upsetting, but overwhelmingly good natured and honest with it, this is most definitely an important film.
The Blu-ray package boasts a brilliant picture transfer, and an excellent audio presentation that, although it's never going to show off your big surround speaker system, will impress nonetheless. The extras are laid out in a cheeky way that makes it look as though there's more on offer here than there actually is, but there's enough content on show to keep us happy. On the whole, an excellent Blu-ray package, and a movie that's certainly worth a look if you find yourself with a couple of hours to kill.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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