With the majority of American films being terrified of approaching sex in anything like an honest fashion, the frankness and good humour of The Sessions is a welcome surprise. Not only does it deal with sex in a straightforward manner, but it also deals with the equally sensitive themes of disability and religion, all of which writer/director Ben Lewin pulls off skilfully.
John Hawkes plays polio survivor Mark O'Brien, left largely paralysed from the neck down but determined to lose his virginity, which is where sex surrogate Helen Hunt comes into the picture. The warm, funny and neatly understated performances that Lewin draws from these actors (William H. Macy and Moon Bloodgood also excel) make up for his mundane TV-ish direction, but while The Sessions is a witty and moving film, there is one nagging caveat.
For all of the film's sexual openness, the double-standard of allowing Hunt to perform fully nude throughout while coyly covering Hawkes' lower half is an egregious misstep. It seems some things are still taboo.