Skyfall comes out this week, and if you haven’t seen that, please do. But since you probably have seen that, and since our goal is to draw your attention to the jewels you may have missed, we’ll spin a John Hawkes two-fer this Tuesday morn.
Robbed of a richly deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination for his brilliant work in The Session, Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien, a poet sentenced by polio to live out his days in an iron lung. The consummate character actor can transform from dead-eyed and dangerous (Winter’s Bone) to aw-shucks sweet (HBO’s Eastbound & Down) without ever losing sight of the human soul inside the character. For The Sessions, he proves equally adept at physical transformation.
As Mark approaches middle age, he struggles with the hope to check sex off his bucket list. In walks a fearless, wonderful (and Oscar nominated) Helen Hunt, completing an ensemble that doesn’t blush at or sugarcoat this story about sex and its power in a human life.
A different type of power is on display in Martha Marcy May Marlene, with Hawkes delivering a mesmerizing performance as Patrick, a mysterious cult leader. As Patrick charms the cult’s new member (a terrific Elizabeth Olsen) Hawkes skillfully foreshadows the menacing intentions beneath Patrick’s inviting charade.
A fascinating film with a dreamlike quality, MMMM is another gem in Hawkes’s catalog.