The Sessions

The Sessions

The Sessions

Audience Award winner at Sundance 2012, the story of a man (John Hawkes), paralysed from the neck down, determined to lose his virginity at the age of 38 – with the help of a sex therapist (Helen Hunt) and the guidance of his priest (William H. Macy). Based on the true story of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien who became paralysed and confined to an iron lung due to polio.

Audience Award (Dramatic) and Special Jury Prize (Dramatic Acting) at Sundance Film Festival 2012.
2012Rating: MA15+, for strong sexuality including graphic nudity and frank dialogue94 minsUSA
ComedyDramaTrue Story & Biography

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Reviews & comments

Crippled Cutie

A brilliant portrait of a man who never lost his dignity and sense of humour even though he was severely handicapped. A beacon of hope to all those who feel that love is purely based on looks and status...this individual had neither but still had the elusive x factor thanks largely to his degree of articulation. The movie asked some potent...

A great cinema session

The Flicks review nails it. Great movie. Loved it. Helen Hunt should be an Oscar lock.

4.0

Wonderful Movie

Rarely do we get such a beautifully crafted, acted and written story for adult cinemagoers who want something to entertain the brain - but THE SESSIONS delivers suberb entertainment. Wonderful. We loved it.

5.0

2.5 Stars

Another very average movie. I didnt feel like they overly bonded, but they suddenly seemed very attached to each other... unrealistic. Im not a fan of Helen and she certainly plays the same personality in this movie as she does in many others - kind of cold and kind of bitchy. As with any real-life story they try and 'drama-it-up' to make it more...

2.0

It's ok, that's all.

Heart warming; read Hollywood can't help itself. Bound to win academy awards.Not as humorous as the shorts imply, and unconvincing in parts, although could be alot worse. Great acting. It's ok, thats all.

3.0
Total Film

Total Film

press

Aided by committed, awards-ready performance, 'The Sessions' transforms 'taboo' subject matter into a humorous, humane and uncomplicated pleasure.

4.0
Time Out

Time Out

press

The real heat of 'The Sessions' comes from its pitch-perfect sense of place, the free-spirited Berkeley of the 1980s.

4.0
The New York Times

The New York Times

press

A pleasant shock: a touching, profoundly sex-positive film that equates sex with intimacy, tenderness and emotional connection instead of performance, competition and conquest.

The Guardian

The Guardian

press

The transactions, O'Brien's growing self-awareness and the effect on those around him are explored with grace, humour and tenderness.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

press

Mark is played by John Hawkes, who has emerged in recent years as an actor of amazing versatility. What he does here is not only physically challenging, but requires timing and emotion to elevate the story into realms of deep feeling and, astonishingly, even comedy.

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

press

In a country that embraces cinematic violence with such ease but blushingly prefers to keep sex in the shadows or under the sheets, the grown-up approach of "The Sessions" is rare.

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

At once entirely frank and downright cuddly in the way it deals with the seldom-visited subject of the sex lives of people with disabilities, this well-acted and constructed film will, at the very least, turn the spotlight on this unusual topic.

Box Office Magazine

Box Office Magazine

press

The emotional journey is articulated with so much nuance, and such a vigorous belief in human possibility, that everything [The Sessions] touches becomes its own, and is made new.

4.0
Total Film

Total Film

press

Aided by committed, awards-ready performance, 'The Sessions' transforms 'taboo' subject matter into a humorous, humane and uncomplicated pleasure.

4.0
Time Out

Time Out

press

The real heat of 'The Sessions' comes from its pitch-perfect sense of place, the free-spirited Berkeley of the 1980s.

4.0
The New York Times

The New York Times

press

A pleasant shock: a touching, profoundly sex-positive film that equates sex with intimacy, tenderness and emotional connection instead of performance, competition and conquest.

The Guardian

The Guardian

press

The transactions, O'Brien's growing self-awareness and the effect on those around him are explored with grace, humour and tenderness.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

press

Mark is played by John Hawkes, who has emerged in recent years as an actor of amazing versatility. What he does here is not only physically challenging, but requires timing and emotion to elevate the story into realms of deep feeling and, astonishingly, even comedy.

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

press

In a country that embraces cinematic violence with such ease but blushingly prefers to keep sex in the shadows or under the sheets, the grown-up approach of "The Sessions" is rare.

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

press

At once entirely frank and downright cuddly in the way it deals with the seldom-visited subject of the sex lives of people with disabilities, this well-acted and constructed film will, at the very least, turn the spotlight on this unusual topic.

Box Office Magazine

Box Office Magazine

press

The emotional journey is articulated with so much nuance, and such a vigorous belief in human possibility, that everything [The Sessions] touches becomes its own, and is made new.

4.0

Crippled Cutie

A brilliant portrait of a man who never lost his dignity and sense of humour even though he was severely handicapped. A beacon of hope to all those who feel that love is purely based on looks and status...this individual had neither but still had the elusive x factor thanks largely to his degree of articulation. The movie asked some potent...

A great cinema session

The Flicks review nails it. Great movie. Loved it. Helen Hunt should be an Oscar lock.

4.0

Wonderful Movie

Rarely do we get such a beautifully crafted, acted and written story for adult cinemagoers who want something to entertain the brain - but THE SESSIONS delivers suberb entertainment. Wonderful. We loved it.

5.0

2.5 Stars

Another very average movie. I didnt feel like they overly bonded, but they suddenly seemed very attached to each other... unrealistic. Im not a fan of Helen and she certainly plays the same personality in this movie as she does in many others - kind of cold and kind of bitchy. As with any real-life story they try and 'drama-it-up' to make it more...

2.0

It's ok, that's all.

Heart warming; read Hollywood can't help itself. Bound to win academy awards.Not as humorous as the shorts imply, and unconvincing in parts, although could be alot worse. Great acting. It's ok, thats all.

3.0