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The Sessions (2012)

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A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 18 wins & 63 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mikvah Lady
Dr. Laura White
Jennifer Kumiyama ...


At the age of 38, Mark O'Brien, a man who uses an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and his priest, he contacts Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a professional sex surrogate and a typical soccer mom with a house, a mortgage and a husband. Inspired by a true story, The Sessions, follows the fascinating relationship which evolves between Cheryl and Mark as she takes him on his journey to manhood. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality including graphic nudity and frank dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 November 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Six Sessions  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$113,467 (USA) (19 October 2012)


$5,997,134 (USA) (8 March 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ben Lewin met with several disabled actors but didn't feel any of them were right for the part. See more »


Cheryl wears Wacoal bras from 2011, including the "Embrace Lace Underwire" bra style #65191. See more »


[first lines]
Bill Hillman - Reporter: Mark O'Brien has been going to UC Berkley since 1978. That's O'Brien in the motorized gurney heading for class last week. He had polio when he was six years old. The disease left his body crippled, but his mind remained sharp and alert. And since he wanted to be a writer, Mark O'Brien entered Cal to major in English and learn his trade. He wrote this poem for us about school here and about graduation.
Mark O'Brien: Graduation. Today I hear the crowd's applause. Receive the congratulations from ...
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Featured in Chelsea Lately: Episode #6.160 (2012) See more »


CMP231 Russian Romance
Written and performed by Udi Harpaz
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User Reviews

Will Make You Laugh, Cry and Look at Life More Positively
22 November 2012 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

The Sessions tells the inspirational true story of Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a poet/journalist who has an iron lung and is paralyzed from the neck down due to polio. At age 36 he decides to finally lose his virginity and – with the support of his friend/priest (William H. Macy) – hires a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt).

John Hawkes (Winter's Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) has been gathering accolades for his performance in The Sessions – and with good reason. He not only delivers on the physical demands of such a role but he manages to encapsulate the emotions of a man with a broken body but a good heart. It's an impressive performance that should see him at least receive an Oscar nomination come next years awards. Hawkes is almost matched by Helen Hunt. She bares all in a brave role that depicts a woman struggling with her job and her emotions. These two performances are some of the best (so far) this year. William H. Macy also gives a good performance as a likable priest that O'Brien is able to confide in.

As a whole, the film doesn't shy away from much. The sex "therapy" sessions are depicted as realistically as possible and are both funny and touching (no pun intended). Ben Lewin's direction is simple yet it manages to adequately depict O'Brien's world without sensationalizing it. It's an all round simple tale that is well told. This is an adult drama that will make you laugh, cry and look more positively at your own life. There aren't many films that do that these days.

46 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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What has happened to Helen Hunts face? jack000-3
Hawkes, not Hunt, deserved a nomination rocknthesubrbs
relationship between Cheryl and her husband? hollygolitely63@hotmail.com
How good was Helen Hunt????? psychonoir89
Helen hunts poem seandefeliz
The ending... new woman tshullin-300-167277
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