Set in a version of New York where everyone has enough money to buy all the organic food they want yet still have the time to train for triathlons and build koi ponds, Thanks for Sharing follows a group of recovering sex addicts.
To some people, “sex addiction” is nothing but an excuse for unfaithful men, while to others it is a legitimate disease at least as devastating as alcohol or drug addiction. Whichever camp you belong to Thanks for Sharing is unlikely to change your opinion as it, perhaps wisely, decides not to delve too deeply in to the validity of sex addiction. Instead it uses it as a tool to explore the fragility of individuals and the way in which other people are the most likely to break you in to pieces.
Tim Robbin’s character, Mike, is furthest along the path to recovery. He has spent the previous 15 years besting his sex and alcohol addiction, but begins to unwind when his estranged, drug addicted son reappears. Mike spouts the sort of motivational lines that are hard to imagine being helpful to anyone, but does provide a lot of support as the pseudo-patriarch of the group, particularly to his sponsee, Adam.
Played by Mark Ruffalo, Adam has imposed complete chastity upon himself for the last five years after coming to terms with his demons. This doesn’t necessarily make him healthy and and he is continually pestered to start dating again (sex addicts are encouraged from having any sort of sexual activity except from in long-term monogamous relationships). When he does meet the woman of his dreams, a wise cracking Gwyneth Paltrow, Adam is reintroduced to the world of intimacy and sexuality that he has hidden from for the past half decade, which leads to some uncharacteristically dark scenes.
Finally, Adam’s sponsee Neil (Josh Gad), who provides most of the comic relief, has been court ordered to attend meetings after engaging in “unwanted sexual contact” with a non-consenting civilian on the subway. Neil’s blatant self-denial and vicious cycle of trying not to masturbate, succumbing to temptation, comfort eating, vowing not to do it again only to fail over and over again is the saddest story of the three until he befriends Dede (Alecia Moore, AKA Pink).
Despite perfectly good acting, Ruffalo and Paltrow play characters both egotistic and unbelievable. The rest of the cast were thankfully more believable, with Pink being a particular (and surprising) highlight.
Thanks for Sharing is the directorial debut of Stuart Blumberg who scripted 2010’s The Kids Are All Right. Unfortunately Thanks for Sharing doesn’t reach the same standard, and while both share similar themes – particularly how hard control is to achieve and how easily it can be lost – this year’s film is less subtle in its exploration.
In the end, it spends too much time straddling the fence between hopelessly-in-love rom-com and aspiring indie darling, chronicling the downfall of previously inspirational men. It pulls off both to an extent, has a few genuine laugh out loud moments (though mercifully few jokes about premature ejaculation) and has a certain amount of the intangible feel good factor, and as a result, the film in its entirety left me more entertained than I would have expected from the sum of its parts.