Film
5:30 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Film Review: 'Thanks For Sharing' Barrels Through Addiction, Recovery, and Relapse

For a movie about addiction to work, it needs to get its hands dirty. Even if it ends with the sunniest sobriety imaginable, it has to earn it; it has to show a protagonist hitting rock bottom. Thanks for Sharing is such a movie.

Mark Ruffalo (center) and Tim Robbins (right) share the woes of sex addiction in 'Thanks for Sharing.'

Mark Ruffalo gives a solid, thorny performance as Adam, a successful, hip New Yorker who attends 12-step meetings for sexual addiction and has been sober for five years. Among his fellow attendees are Mike (Tim Robbins), who serves as Adam’s sponsor, and Neil (Josh Gad), a doctor who is court-ordered for his inappropriate sexual boundaries on the subway and has selected Adam as his sponsor. (The one woman given any dialogue in the group is played by pop star Pink, working here as Alecia Moore.)

The sponsor-sponsee relationship is a critical link for these three; it serves as the lifeline for those outwardly innocuous but, to them, fraught moments when life’s every day parade of passers-by becomes a temptation. Director/co-writer (with Matt Winston) Stuart Blumberg seems to have really done his homework, as we watch group members away from the safe cocoon of meetings, trying on new skins to battle old habits. While Mike struggles with his anger and former drug-abusing older son, Adam’s attempt to have a relationship is the focus and the root of everything honest, troubling and prickly about the film.

He has fallen hard for Phoebe, played with an undercoating of neurosis by Gwyneth Paltrow. The day they meet, they hit it off but she makes one off-handed comment about how she’d never date another addict. It pulverizes Adam inside but he’s so smitten, his only course of action is to hide his addiction for as long as he can.

To stay in recovery, sex addicts maintain a rigid set of rules about how they and their libidos are to co-exist. In one scene, Adam is on a business trip and his first call is to the hotel front desk to remove his television – its mere presence is like a well-stocked mini-bar to a drinker. And when his demons resurface, it’s painful to watch; he seems flayed alive. Thanks for Sharing is a strong movie with a terrific cast that, to a person, digs deep into their characters for viewers' seemingly incompatible bemusement and discomfort.

Thanks for Sharing| Dir. Stuart Blumberg | 112 minutes | Playing at Fine Arts Theatres

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