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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.


Ben Lewin


Ben Lewin (written for the screen by), Mark O'Brien (article)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 18 wins & 63 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Hawkes ... Mark
Helen Hunt ... Cheryl
William H. Macy ... Father Brendan
Moon Bloodgood ... Vera
Annika Marks ... Amanda
Adam Arkin ... Josh
Rhea Perlman ... Mikvah Lady
W. Earl Brown ... Rod
Robin Weigert ... Susan
Blake Lindsley ... Dr. Laura White
Ming Lo ... Clerk
Rusty Schwimmer ... Joan
Jennifer Kumiyama Jennifer Kumiyama ... Carmen
Tobias Forrest ... Greg
Jarrod Bailey ... Tony


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:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Fox [United States]





Release Date:

16 November 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Surrogate See more »

Filming Locations:

San Francisco, California, USA


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$113,467, 21 October 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$6,002,451, 14 March 2013

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,138,338, 14 March 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Writer-director Ben Lewin is a polio victim himself. He was researching a semi-autobiographical sitcom when he stumbled on the internet on the story of Mark O'Brien and sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen Greene. 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 »


Written by Steven R. Galloway
Performed by Steven R. Galloway (as Steve Galloway)
Courtesy of ZNCA Publishing Co.
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User Reviews

There really are some sad, sick and dimwitted people in this world!
8 June 2013 | by rawiri42See all my reviews

The title to this review has nothing whatsoever to do with "The Sessions" - it refers to all those people who wrote reviews about "bad taste" and "porn" who clearly have little or no compassion and probably live in cotton-wool padded suburban houses and enjoy "normal" lifestyles of comfort and security. They make me sick!!

The Sessions is an extremely delicate story that all those wowsers would like to think doesn't happen in real life. Maybe some true justice would be if they had a child who was paralyzed and grew up never knowing what it was like to experience what it took to make them! SEXUAL INTERCOURSE!!! Yes, I said it!! But then, when I look at some of those mean, negative reviews, I notice that most of them are from women and I wonder how many of them are closet lesbians too afraid to stand up and be counted!

I suppose it depends on how one looks at such a sensitive situation as Mark O'Brien's as to how one sees it. What makes them think that such a person should be deprived of what he was clearly able to do with professional help. Does it occur to all those negative thinkers that having sex with a severely handicapped man might not be all fun and games? Amnd, more to the point, does it ever occur to them that, fortunately for such handicapped people, there are people who sincerely want to do something practical to help them? Obviously not! All they see is porn (and, truth be known, probably clandestinely watch it on the Internet when they think no one is watching!)

Yes, The Sessions IS a very different sort of movie But it is well portrayed with a sensitive balance between pathos and humour. If you think that Helen Hunt shouldn't be seen full-frontal naked on screen than don't watch this movie but if you have a desire to see a true story about a sad situation rescued by someone who CAN see past naked flesh and sexual discussion, I believe you will be well-rewarded.

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