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A scene from The Sessions.

3 out of 4 stars

Title
The Sessions
Directed by
Ben Lewin
Starring
John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy

The story of the late severely disabled poet-journalist Mark O'Brien was already portrayed in the 1996 Oscar-winning documentary short Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien. This frank and good-natured Sundance winner focuses specifically on O'Brien's experience, at 38, of hiring a therapeutic sex surrogate. The talented John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), starring as O'Brien – immobilized from the neck down by childhood polio – uses voice-over to describe his struggles with love, God and discrimination. Helen Hunt is the earnest and kind sex professional, with William H. Macy as O'Brien's hipster priest. The gently humorous script is bolstered by liberal use of O'Brien's own journalism and poetry.

Sept. 11, 2:30 p.m., Elgin; Sept. 15, 12 p.m., Ryerson.

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