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Humour mixes with humanity in moving drama

The Sessions (15)

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Dir: Ben Lewin

With: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt

Runtime: 91 minutes

WINTER'S Bone star John Hawkes takes the lead role in this true story of Mark O'Brien, poet, journalist and polio survivor.

Living in an iron lung for most of the day, O'Brien craved the sort of close contact the able-bodied take for granted. So at the grand old age of 38, he set out to lose his virginity with the help of a sex surrogate (played by Helen Hunt).

Ben Lewin's moving drama aims to find humour and humanity wherever it can and it succeeds in doing so, save for a couple of moments in which the script tries too hard to get us on side with O'Brien's quest.

The ever excellent William H Macy (Magnolia) offers sterling support as the priest who counsels O'Brien. Hunt is up for a best supporting actress Oscar, and Hawkes shows that as a leading man he deserves to be here to stay.

Either Way (15)

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Dir: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson

With: Sveinn Olafur Gunnarsson, Hilmar Gudjonsson

Runtime: 85 minutes

AT this year's Sundance Film Festival, which starts today, there is a picture called Prince Avalanche, a buddy comedy starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.

Either Way is the Icelandic film from which the Rudd/Hirsch film hails, and like all originals it is definitely worth catching. Finn and Alfred are a couple of road workers, sent out into the Icelandic hinterland to paint lines in the road.

Alfred is young and up for fun, living for the weekends in town, while the older man, Finn, just wants to "listen to the silence".

From being an odd couple who irritate each other, the two begin to revise their assumptions after a long, half-lit night of the male soul. Gentle, amusing and wise.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh, January 21, 22, and 24.

Boxing Day (15)

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Dir: Bernard Rose

With: Danny Huston, Matthew Jacobs

Runtime: 94 minutes

DANNY Huston and director Bernard Rose reunite for the third in their highly enjoyable adaptations of Tolstoy novellas after Ivansxtc and The Kreutzer Sonata.

Huston, one of the most underrated actors in the business, plays Basil, a failing businessman who wants to get rich from other people's misfortunes by buying up repossessed property.

Matthew Jacobs plays Nick, the chauffeur who drives Basil around Denver and the kind of loser the businessman not so secretly despises. Nature, in the form of an icy road on which they become stranded, proves the great leveller.

Terrific performances underpin a tale that goes from initially superficial to intensely satisfying.

Glasgow Film Theatre, January 22-24; Mareel, Lerwick, January 30.

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