Mark O’Brien (Hawkes) has been in an iron lung since the age of six when he was afflicted with polio. Now at 38, he wishes to lose his virginity. With the blessing of his local priest (Macy) and the help of his caregiver (Bloodgood), he employs the services of professional sex surrogate Cheryl (Hunt). As the two gradually work towards an attempt at intercourse, a strong bond develops; Cheryl witnesses Mark getting in touch not only with his physical self, but also a host of emotions that have lain dormant for many, many years.
In this true story, Hawkes (“Winter’s Bone”) gives a powerhouse turn as a man looking for intimacy despite a broken body; his performance is a remarkable emotional and physical feat. Hunt matches him with strength, tenderness and humor. Despite being nude for a number of scenes, she manages to deflect our attention to Cheryl’s empathy and intelligence. It’s no wonder she was Oscar-nominated for this. Director Lewin executes a seamless balance of comedy and pathos, working from a script he adapted from O’Brien’s own article. As you’d expect, Macy is also wonderful in this warm and touching Sundance winner. Attend these “Sessions”!