The Sessions (2012)



Critic Consensus: Tender, funny, and touching, The Sessions provides an acting showcase for its talented stars and proves it's possible for Hollywood to produce a grown-up movie about sex.

Movie Info

Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, The Sessions tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality. -- (C) Fox Searchlight

Rating: R (for strong sexuality including graphic nudity and frank dialogue)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Ben Lewin
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 12, 2013
Box Office: $6.0M
Fox Searchlight Pictures - Official Site


as Cheryl

as Mikvah Lady

as Dr. Laura White

as Clerk

as Young Mark

as Girl on Beach

as Man in Elevator

as E.R. Doctor

as Cat

as Father Brendan
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Sessions

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Critic Reviews for The Sessions

All Critics (187) | Top Critics (47)

It's all so plodding and beige, yet giving this movie a bad review is like kicking a kitten.

Full Review… | May 3, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

The Sessions is a tender, well-intentioned examination of a disabled man exploring his sexual identity, but sometimes a film needs more than just good intentions.

Full Review… | November 25, 2013

May sound like shameless Oscar-bait, but in truth the film is simpler than that, more small-scale, with a light and unpretentious sense of humor.

Full Review… | July 21, 2013

It's difficult not to be impressed with director and screenwriter Ben Lewin's ability to bring this distinctive and surprisingly emotional story to the big screen.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

It's unlike any movie you'll see this year, dealing with delicate subject matter in a refined way.

Full Review… | June 9, 2013
7M Pictures

What stirs you most is the effortless way Hawkes is able to convey Mark's compassion for people far more fortunate than himself.

Full Review… | May 13, 2013
The Patriot Ledger

Audience Reviews for The Sessions

"The Sessions" is an engrossing drama about sex with amazingly fearless performances from John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, in a career-best performance.

The Gandiman
Tony Gandía

Super Reviewer

Surprisingly good. Really expected this to be worthy and a bit of a yawner, but it's actually quite funny and sweet as well as sad. Performances are perfect.

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


If there's a film that you haven't yet seen from last year's Oscar nominations, this is the next one for you. Heartbreaking, touching, very funny, and educational in many respects, "The Sessions" is a film that speaks about the lives of those with disabilities, and their role in the continuum of human experience. Based on the life of polio survivor and poet Mark O'Brien, the inspiration came from an article O'Brien wrote about his experiences with sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene and how it affected him for the rest of his life. An unexpectedly short and sweet kind of film, it would have been easy for director and screenwriter Ben Lewin to embellish the story to involve a deeper and more complicated relationship between the two. Instead it details how sex surrogates work through patient's dilemmas, how they remain professional throughout their tenure, and the good they can do, especially for those who suffer through severe disabilities, such as Mark O'Brien. The story remains accurate and poignant, driving home the point that we all can love, no matter how we look to the rest of society. That and it's the cutest story to feature a woman having sex for money since "Pretty Woman" though without the thigh high boots and blonde wig. John Hawkes blew me away as Mark O'Brien, a role that seems to have been tailor made for the character actor. He even went as far as shifting his internal organs with a foam pillow in order to recreate the curvature of O'Brien's spine, and became intrigued by the source material enough to read through all of O'Brien's works. The relationship between them is fairly touching, and for sure never borders on lustful, inappropriate, or misplaced within the narrative of the story. It's simply a sweet little story that doesn't surprise and doesn't nudge controversy. It was really surprising when Helen Hunt got a nomination for Best Supporting Actress since her part is a bit subdued, but thank goodness she did so this film got the proper bump it deserved.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

The Sessions Quotes

– Submitted by Frances H (13 months ago)
– Submitted by Nandu J (23 months ago)
– Submitted by Carlin L (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)

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