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Sexual Healing in The Sessions: An interview with John Hawkes (Published: Georgia Straight)

the sessionsTORONTO—WHEN IT COMES to movies about sex, The Sessions comes closer than most to approximating the actual experience. It’s emotionally as well as physically explicit about what happens when coitus happens. So it’s sexy, yes, but be forewarned: you might also feel other, more complicated things.

The Sessions (opening Friday [November 2]) is neither a disease-of-the-month movie nor an artsy interpretation of disability nor a vehicle for actors with Oscar aspirations—though both the leads, John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, are sure to be awards-season contenders.

Hawkes, who often specializes in frightening and often murderous characters, here plays real-life protagonist Mark O’Brien, a childhood polio sufferer who was mostly paralyzed and spent his life on a gurney and in an iron lung.

Of his many disadvantages, O’Brien, who had a degree from UC Berkeley and was a published essayist, considered his virginity to be the most egregious. So, at 38 years old, he hired Cheryl, a sex surrogate (played by Hunt), to correct the situation.

O’Brien, who died in 1999 at age 49, was the subject of a 1996 Oscar-winning documentary (Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien, by Jessica Yu). Ben Lewin, the Australian writer-director of The Sessions, is himself a polio survivor. His script is adapted, quite faithfully, from O’Brien’s autobiographical essay “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate” as well as his book How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence. Read article here.