Like a lot of us, Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) has trouble with the ladies. Unlike a lot of us, Mark survived severe polio that left him confined to a bed, a stretcher or his iron lung. But he still wants a woman’s touch. In the surprisingly funny The Sessions
, Mark finds Cheryl (Helen Hunt), a sex therapist who will help him through the obviously delicate arrangement. Based on a true story—including O’Brien’s own journalistic account of it—The Sessions
avoids the common pitfalls of movies that feature the disabled, movies that are eyed more cynically during Oscar season because of the degree of difficulty found in many of the performances. Hawkes does enter the Best Actor discussion here, although his portrayal is not as pained and morose as you’d expect. Indeed, it’s Mark’s liveliness and good humor that makes Hawkes worthy of the talk.