Written and Directed by Ben Lewin
Starring, John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood

Mark O’Brien (Hawkes), although a prisoner of a childhood bout with polio, is the sexiest man I saw in a film this year. He may not be able to move, but his brain is agile and his heart beats. He is open, kind, witty, serious in his quest to experience as much of life as his imprisonment in an iron lung 21 hours a day allows. Even when he is able to escape from his prison for a few hours, he is flat on a gurney. With the permission, and eventually encouragement, of his priest (Macy), he hires a sex surrogate (Hunt) to provide him with six sessions of intimacy in the hope of experiencing this most physical of human acts.

Hunt may be the least self-conscious naked woman you can imagine. It is not just her ease with her unclothed body, it is her ease with treating sex as both desirable and ordinary. In lesser hands than Hawkes and Hunt’s, of course, this film could have been any number of things: embarrassing, prurient, pathetic, and unbelievable. Instead both actors inhabit their roles in such a way that the film is uplifting and hopeful. Mark brings to Cheryl gifts of the spirit as she brings to him gifts of the flesh. They are both buoyed and yet humbled by their joint journey.

Highly recommended. I cannot think of two better performances this year.

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