Year Released: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 47 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:
An incredible opening title sequence sets the bar higher than the rest of the film is able to achieve. With a tense orchestral score, names like Joy McAvoy and Jo Menzer flash between disturbing images of violent illustrations, bleeding flesh, and a woman walking towards the dangerous ocean. The blaring horns and pounding drums tease the viewer, introducing the film as an exciting, gripping thriller when, in reality, the majority of the film involves slow-moving discussions between a woman named Jemima (Joy McAvoy) and her psychiatrist, Victoria (Jo Menzer).
The first half of Uisdean Murray’s Sessions of the Mind is shot in dull black-and-white. With over twenty minutes of the film taking place in Victoria’s office, Murray tries to keep the viewer’s attention through creative editing. He plays with voiceover discussions between the two women which call to the connection that they’ll make as the film progresses. It’s an interesting technique but to really help the film, a good chunk of Act I should have ended up on the cutting room floor.
However, Act II takes Jemima and Victoria into a colorized bayside where the graphic imagery used in the opening titles was pulled. It’s this second act that showcases the film’s most grisly scene: Jemima kneeling at the beach with blood coating her eyes and fishhooks plunged into her cheeks. The effects are gruesome and the techniques Murray uses to shoot the scene compliment it well. Extreme close-ups shot with an iris blur and tinted coloring turn what could have been an over-the-top, gross-out scene into a fascinating Buñuelian display. Unfortunately, it’s followed by more scenes of slowly-paced dialogue until the film eventually wraps up.
The first half of Sessions is in dire need of editing. It would have also benefitted by more focused lighting and sound work. The second half, the surreal section that takes place by the ocean, is much stronger. Technically, things come together once they leave Victoria’s office. The production value couldn’t be more different from the preceding twenty minutes. As far as plot, the second half is ultimately much more captivating and was actually a nice surprise once Act I had finished. Overall, Sessions needs finessing but there are enough memorable and effective elements to look past what doesn’t work.
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Posted on October 24, 2011 in Reviews by Scott Knopf
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