The Sessions is riding perhaps the highest wave of positive buzz, among this year’s Sundance Film Festival entries. It was written and directed by Ben Lewin, a Polish-born filmmaker whose professional career dates back to 1975. Lewin isn’t much of a name here in the States, but he’s snagged a handful of Australian film awards over the years (for The Favor, the Watch, and the Very Big Fish and Georgia). Of course, Lewin also walked away with the Sundance 2012 Audience Award for Sessions.

Sessions (previously known as The Surrogate and Six Sessions) is based on the true story of Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), a poet who has been paralyzed from the neck down since he suffered from polio during childhood, and has since depended on an iron lung to survive.

At age 38, Mark decides to lose his virginity. On the advice of his therapist (Moon Bloodgood) and local priest (William H. Macy), Mark contacts a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) – a sex therapist who engages in physical intimacy with their patient – to help him accomplish that task. What follows is a good-natured and funny examination of one man’s attempts to experience all that life has to offer, despite his own physical limitations (judging by the Sessions trailer and early word-of-mouth).

Hawkes’ performance in The Sessions has been generating lots of awards buzz. It’s the latest in a long string of well-regarded turns by the versatile character actor, whose resume includes noteworthy appearances in From Dusk Till Dawn, The Perfect Storm, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Winter’s Bone (which snagged Hawkes an Oscar nod), and Screen Rant favorite Martha Marcy May Marlene. That’s not to mention, the actor’s fan-fave role on HBO’s Deadwood, and his more recent stint on Eastbound & Down.

Helen Hunt and John Hakwes in ‘The Sessions’

Suffice it to say: Hawkes is due for some Oscar recognition, and his performance in Sessions is the sort of physically and emotionally-challenging turn that could land him just that. More importantly, the film looks to boast solid acting, clever writing, and a story that smoothly meshes sentiment with more adult humor; amusingly, Sessions really does seem to resemble a Judd Apatow film such as The 40 Year Old Virgin in that regard (minus the raunch-com, of course).

Be sure to check out trailers for some other noteworthy 2012 Sundance entries:

The Sessions begins a limited U.S. theatrical release on October 26th, 2012.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers