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Published October 11th 2013
Is sexual addiction a disease or an excuse?
Movie poster. Image courtesy Rotten Tomatoes website.
Thanks for Sharing follows the lives of 3 people who attend a 12-step therapy group to recover from their sexual addiction. The content of the film is very topical at the moment; especially with the headline-grabbing antics of Tiger Woods and Shane Warne and recent Hollywood movie Shame, which delved into the darker side of addiction.
Shame is a gritty psychological drama starring Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a New York advertising executive who shuns intimacy with women. Shame examines the nature of need, how we live our lives and how our experiences can shape us. Image courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Thanks for Sharing by co-writer and first time director Stuart Blumberg (The Kids are Alright) is a relaxed, good-humoured movie that seems to fall somewhere between a drama and a comedy. However the controversial and often misunderstood subject matter feels uncomfortable in the realm of a romantic comedy, and the film transitions back and forth between hard-hitting adult drama one moment and lightweight rom-com the next.
Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow's scenes provide the more formulaic rom-com elements of the film. Image courtesy Thanks for Sharing movie website.
The romantic pairing of Mark Ruffalo as Adam and Gwyneth Paltrow as Phoebe is unconvincing, the characters a little bland, and the dialogue seems contrived. The story of the other two characters seems much more intriguing and compelling. Tim Robbins as Mike, the older, wiser, respected 'guru' of the group inadvertently uses the group as a surrogate family. After his prodigal but wayward son Neil (Patrick Fugit) returns home after many years, an uneasy relationship develops between the two. Neil, a previous substance abuser and addict, believes only in the "cold turkey" method and not the self-help, step-based 'talking therapy' that his father uses.
Patrick Fugit (Neil) and Tim Robbins (Mike) have a fractious relationship as Neil tries to make amends for his past with his stubborn father. Image courtesy Thanks for Sharing movie website.
The third character Neil (Josh Gad) a newly graduated doctor, is still firmly in the denial stage. However when he loses his promising career after his addiction spirals out of control he is forced to confront his past and his unhealthy relationship with his mother. It is in the therapy group that Neil meets Dede (Alicia Moore aka Pink). Dede and Neil form an unlikely friendship and support each other with Gad's character Neil providing some much needed comic relief.
Dede (Alicia Moore aka Pink) helps out Neil (Josh Gad) get rid of his porn collection with a bonfire. Image courtesy Thanks for Sharing movie website.
In the second half, main character Adam gets on a bender and the movie takes some unexpected dark turns. He gets re-acquainted with former one-night stand Becky (Emily Meade), an emotionally unstable young woman who has suffered some form of child abuse. Just when the movie gets into the real damage an addiction can cause, the conclusion is pat and an anti-climax (pardon the pun). The harrowing and disturbing scene seemed somewhat out of place with the rest of the movie.
Mike (Tim Robbins) is a father figure to Adam (Mark Ruffalo) in the therapy group. Image courtesy Thanks for Sharing movie website.