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The Sessions

  R HD Closed Captioning

Ben Lewin

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Plot Summary

Academy Award® Winner Helen Hunt (Actress, “As Good as It Gets,” 1997) joins Academy Award® Nominees John Hawkes (Supporting Actor, “Winter’s Bone,” 2010) and William H. Macy (Supporting Actor, “Fargo,” 1996) in this triumphant true story about love, sex, desire...and making every breath count. Paralyzed and confined to an iron lung since childhood, poet-journalist Mark O’Brien (Hawkes) has overcome adversity time and time again. But now, at age 38, he faces his toughest challenge yet: losing his virginity. With the help of a beautiful therapist (Hunt), a sympathetic priest (Macy), and his own unbridled sense of optimism and humor, Mark embarks on an extraordinary personal journey to discover the wondrous pleasures that make life worth living.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 188
  • Fresh: 175
  • Rotten: 13
  • Average Rating: 7.9/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: A very different kind of love story, breaking taboos lightly, with sensitivity and humor. – Tom Charity,, Jan 4, 2013

Fresh: A funny, tender and mostly unsentimentalized movie about physical and emotional triumph. – Rafer Guzman, Newsday, Nov 8, 2012

Fresh: Thanks to Lewin's light but assured touch, The Sessions never wears its theological preoccupations heavily, instead allowing transcendence to creep up on the audience quietly. – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Jan 8, 2013

Fresh: Hunt is a prodigy. No other actress could have brought such easeful transparency, such a glow of givingness, such heedlessness of glamour each time she strips naked. – Nigel Andrews, Financial Times, Jan 17, 2013

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews


At first glance, the subject of "The Sessions" - a severely disabled, 38-year-old polio victim who longs to be intimate with a woman - may drive most people away from seeing it. But this film, based on the autobiographical writings of poet and journalist Mark O'Brien, is a surprisingly funny, honest, and deeply affecting account of his late-life desire to have a romantic life just as non-disabled people can have. John Hawkes easily gives the best performance of his career thus far as Mark, a man confined to an iron lung since childhood. Through the bare physical expressions on his face and his unbridled sense of optimism, Hawkes completely disappears into his role, portraying a self-effacing, sympathetic protagonist who we all end up rooting for well before the film's end. It's one of those affectionately surreal, utterly convincing performances that makes you appreciate life just a bit more. Helen Hunt co-stars as Cheryl, the self-titled sex therapist Mark hesitantly confides in to be his first partner in bed. She plays the character as a complete professional at all times, but never unfriendly or uncaring, and her sensitive instructions to Mark as they partake in their "private activity" feel both maddeningly discomforting and strangely sweet. Hawkes and Hunt share a terrific chemistry throughout this film - the sort of frank, honest bond that's effortlessly pulled off with nuanced humor and vulnerability. Even the awkward scenes of intimacy they share together are handled with a rare delicacy. William H. Macy is also a standout player in the cast as Father Brennan, the priest who helps Mark reconcile sex surrogacy in ways you won't see coming. He isn't in the flick for too long, but his quietly sentimental scenes with Hawkes are nonetheless memorable. The screenplay is just as impressive as the acting, deftly balancing the weight of our protagonist's situation with heart and humanity. My only slight issue would just have to be the film's inconsistent pacing at times, but it never becomes too much of a glaring concern that it takes away from the story. Overall, "The Sessions" is a finely crafted film, handling its unusual premise with tender authenticity and an uplifting sense of optimism. Featuring one of the best performances of the past year from Hawkes and an engaging, bittersweet script, this quietly compelling indie flick is a true delight. It definitely won't appeal to every moviegoer, but if you're a fan of lighthearted romantic dramas, "The Sessions" is well worth your time.


AMAZING. Easily the best movie of 2012. Brave, deeply touching, funny, raw, and above all beautiful. Helen Hunt is fearless (I liked her before but this is her best work to date) and John Hakes is spot on with his honest, unapologetic performance. What an unexpected triumph in a year of cinematic mediocrity.

Best movie of 2013

Loved this movie so much. Helen hunt is amazing. Deeply touching and just plain great.

The Sessions
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  • $14.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 2012

Customer Ratings