Directed by Ben Lewin
Published: 17 January, 2013
by DAN CARRIER
THIS original, funny and moving film comes from the story of Mark O’Brien, a journalist who was asked to write a feature on the sex lives of people with disabilities.
He had polio as a child and has spent much of his life rigged up to an breathing machine. O’Brien (played by John Hawkes, pictured) has nurtured a quick-witted mind, got a degree, and has friends – but he has never had sex.
Believing that his life is heading towards its autumn period, he resolves to deal with this situation. Along comes Cheryl (Helen Hunt), a sex therapist, who provides six sessions of love-making to allow people to experience the physical act.
The use of sex workers in some European countries to provide a form of therapy to people who may not otherwise have lovers is a well-established practice – it’s one that our prudish, British approach has meant is not often recognised in polite society.
This film shows how the idea of these basic urges that are intrinsically part of our humanity being fulfilled in an “unconventional” manner.
The key to this film is in the performance of Hawkes in the lead. While he spends much of it on his back, plenty of action takes place through his simple use of words and his expressions. It is extraordinary, compelling, heartfelt and believable.
Throw in strong support by Adam Arkin as Cheryl’s husband, and Helen Hunt in a down-played and human performance, and you have the ingredients for a compelling film.