Based on Mark O’Brien’s autobiographical article and interviews with his ‘lovers’ The Sessions looks at how a man, severely disabled by polio, gets to have sex. He’s 38 and is afraid he’s going to die a virgin so he hires a sex therapist (Helen Hunt) who helps him on his way.
Hawkes is up for an Oscar and he is, as usual, brilliant in the role. He has a chameleon-like ability to not only inhabit a part but look different without the aid of make-up. This role is the polar opposite, almost, of his abusive cult leader in Martha Marcy May Marlene (US, 2011); I think he’s the best actor working in American film at the moment.
And he is the principal reason to watch this worthy film which confronts the audience with uncomfortable thoughts about disability. Helen Hunt is also excellent and, unusually for a Hollywood star, appears nude; though typical of Hollywood (and maybe many other places too) it was difficult to reconcile her body with her ‘late forties’ years.
As was no doubt the point of the film, we are left full of admiration of O’Brien who could sustain his good humour in terrible circumstances.