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The Sessions
A bed-bound man hires a sex surrogate.
 
D

irected by Ben Lewin
(R)

****

The story here is “a head turner,” said Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly. When he was 38, the late poet-journalist Mark O’Brien decided he wanted to lose his virginity, even though childhood polio had left him paralyzed below his neck, and he hired a sex surrogate to accomplish that mission. But this uncommonly frank retelling of that true story is “first and foremost” about John Hawkes’s lead performance. The veteran actor achieves one of those on-screen transformations that make “audiences verklemmt and generate awards talk.” And don’t forget Helen Hunt, said Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. Playing the pragmatic surrogate, she frequently gets naked but “somehow” makes it possible for viewers “to relax and just go with the story.” It’s her best work since her Oscar turn in 1997’s As Good as It Gets. Director Ben Lewin, who also had polio as a child, included plenty of character-driven humor in his “pitch-perfect script,” said Lou Lumenick in the New York Post. His “charming and surprisingly entertaining” movie “treats intimacy with an explicitness and honesty that’s very rare.”

 

 

 

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