The Sessions

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The Sessions

Ben Lewin (2012)

15 Certificate


Our Score
Writer and poet Mark O'Brien drew on his own sexual awakening to write the article on which this comedy drama is based. But what makes this rite of passage so different is that Mark (played here by John Hawkes) is severely disabled, and, at 38, fears he will never lose his virginity. A wicked sense of humour and the guidance of William H Macy's free-thinking priest carry him through the dark times, but Catholic guilt threatens to hold Mark back as he begins a course of therapy with sex surrogate Cheryl (Helen Hunt). Frustratingly, writer/director Ben Lewin glosses over most of the moral dilemmas in favour of a breezy self-help guide to gaining sexual confidence. It's only much later on that emotional complications arise, with Mark's inexperience making him susceptible to whims of the heart. Hunt gives a totally assured performance - often naked - but her character's businesslike approach to sex isn't exactly conducive to romance. Instead, it's Hawkes's portrayal, in all its wit, intelligence and childlike naivety, that really captures the heart.


Writer Mark has survived polio, but still needs to use an iron lung. At the age of 38, he has begun a writing career but has never had sex. With the support of his parish priest, he enlists the help of a sex therapist in gaining the confidence to lose his virginity. Comedy drama, starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H Macy.

Cast & Crew

Mark O'Brien John Hawkes
Cheryl Cohen Greene Helen Hunt
Father Brendan William H Macy
Vera Moon Bloodgood
Amanda Annika Marks
Rod W Earl Brown
Laura White Blake Lindsley
Josh Adam Arkin
Tony Jarrod Bailey
Joan Rusty Schwimmer
Matt James Martinez
Director Ben Lewin
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: 20th Century FoxGuidance: Swearing, sexual references, sex scenes, nudity.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 18 Jan 2013
Drama Comedy