The Sessions (R) 94 minutes B+
Helen Hunt and Positive Sex
Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, Adam Arkin, Rhea Perlman, W. Earl Brown and Robin Weigart
The Sessions is based on the real life story of Mark O'Brien (Hawkes), a San Francisco poet who contracted polio as a young boy and spent the majority of his life in an iron lung. At 38 years-old O'Brien decided that he wanted to lose his virginity. He employed a sex surrogate, Cheryl Cohen Greene (Hunt), who specialized in helping physically disabled patients rediscover their sexuality. It was an occupation that may not have been uncommon in Berkeley, California circa 1988.
This film is inspired by the essay, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate," written by O'Brien and published in 1990. O'Brien's life was also the subject of an Oscar winning documentary short in 1997 called Breathing Lessons. The Sessions is inspiring and uplifting without being weepy and cheesy. It is amazing what the real Mark O'Brien accomplished in his life, feats that many of us (able bodied people) have not.