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O'Brien, a paralyzed man who spent his nights in an iron lung, has tried to live the best life that he can. He's a professional writer, and has attempted to get as much normalcy out of his days as possible. At 36, though, he is thinking more and more about relationships, love, and sex. He wants to experience human intimacy in all of its forms. After exposing himself emotionally, he decides to seek out a more straightforward answer to losing his virginity. With the advice of his priest (William Macy) and the assistance of his aide (Moon Bloodgood), he contacts a sex surrogate to assist. The remainder of the movie details these sessions in much explicitness. They have surprising candor, insight and impact.Read more ›
O'Brien's decision was prompted as a result of research he was doing for an article on the sex lives of disabled people. After interviewing a number of disabled people, and seeing how many of them were in fact enjoying an active and rewarding sex life in spite of their disabilities, O'Brien began to consider his own sex life, or rather, his complete lack of one, and how he might go about changing that. The issue was further complicated for O'Brien by the fact that he was a devout Catholic and what he was contemplating - sex outside of marriage - was a moral issue as well as a physical one. So in addition to consulting a sex therapist for help with his physical challenges, he also consulted with his local priest for what was for him a moral challenge as well.
It is important to understand the exact nature of O'Brien's situation. He was not paralyzed, at least not neurologically. Polio afflicts the muscles, leaving them weak and atrophied, but not the nerves, and so although he couldn't move, O'Brien could still feel and his 'equipment' still worked, albeit in moments that were more embarrassing than anything that could be considered pleasurable, given that the only people ever touching him or seeing him naked were doctors, nurses and attendants.Read more ›
Based on the real-life story of Mark O'Brien (1949-1999), a Berkeley poet and journalist, he was the first severely disabled student to graduate from college, earning a bachelor's degree in 1982, and acceptance to a post graduate program. His inspiring story has been told once before in a documentary film, "Breathing Lessons," directed by Jessica Yu. It won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 1997. This version is written and directed by the acclaimed Ben Lewin, himself a polio survivor who requires crutches.
* John Hawkes ("Contagion") is brilliant as Mark O'Brien, who wryly tells his priest he wants to experience sex before his "Use-By date" expires. Hawkes is an amazing chameleon who transforms himself from film to film, each time I am stunned to discover who I have just watched. There is some well-deserved Oscar buzz about this film.
* Helen Hunt ("As Good as it Gets") is Cheryl Cohen Greene, a professional therapist hired to provide basic instruction in human sexuality. Her therapy is bluntly anatomical and unembarrassed while at the same time, extremely sensitive and insightful. His responses are usually humorous and disarming. Hunt is fearless but convincing, and is beautifully naked a lot of the time.
* William H.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie is definitely for adult audiences but it is a beautiful story. The ability to have a sexual relationship with someone is something that so many take for granted. Read morePublished 16 days ago by yourmothersir
My husband wanted this movie and he loved it! He says he would recommend this to everyone. It was brand new and he got it for a very cheap price.Published 1 month ago by Marie in LV
I loved the teaching and the relationships that develop a "normal" view of sexuality and friendshipPublished 2 months ago by Lili