17 January 2013 4:06 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Judd Apatow isn't the only thing visible in the background of a sweet, sex-fixated comedy

Ben Lewin's The Sessions is a sweet-natured comedy in which reflex sentimentalism and too-cute-to-be-true characters are balanced out with an interestingly candid portrayal of something most movies squeamishly avoid, however sexy they profess to be – the actual messy sex act itself.

It's based on the true story of the severely disabled author Mark O'Brien, a survivor of childhood polio using an iron lung and mobile wheelchair-gurney, who in his late 30s saw a sex-surrogate therapist in order to lose his virginity. John Hawkes (the cult leader from Martha Marcy May Marlene) plays Mark, and Helen Hunt is shrewdly cast as Cheryl, the miraculously sensible and calm therapist. William H Macy is Mark's Catholic priest and confessor, who cheerfully advises him to go for the sex-surrogate plan. Without spelling things out, Lewin and Macy cleverly »

- Peter Bradshaw

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