Thanks For Sharing, the debut from writer-director Stuart Blumberg, contains moments of true promise, but rather frustratingly falls short due to some issues with tone and pacing. Mark Ruffalo is as charming and handsome as ever as the man who seemingly has it all, if it weren’t for his crippling sex addiction. Although Gwyneth Paltrow’s character jokes that this addiction is something made up by men as an excuse to cheat, the film deals with it as seriously as it would a drug problem, and the consequences for the characters are poignant and often disturbing. Adam (Ruffalo) has found solace in a 12-step program, with the help of his wise but struggling sponsor played by Tim Robbins, in an intense and moving performance. Adam has reached the 5 year point in his ‘sobriety’ from sex and compulsive sexual behaviour, and at this critical moment finds himself meeting a beautiful, confident woman at a party (Paltrow). Predictably, they embark on a nervous relationship that fits comfortably into rom-com conventions throughout the film, complete with some rather contrived dialogue and witty banter. Adam struggles to be honest with Phoebe about his addiction, and finds that as the relationship falters, so does his sobriety, with consequences that make for some truly unsettling viewing; it’s here that Thanks For Sharing feels at its most raw and honest.
The film’s subplot primarily features other members of the 12-step group, with Josh Gad giving a fairly sweet performance as Neil, a sweaty, overweight sex addict who must break through his denial and unwillingness to begin to function as a member of society. Alecia Moore, better known to many as the singer Pink, is surprisingly convincing as his love interest in the program, although their interactions occasionally veer too far into comic relief territory.
The film suffers from not really knowing whether it’s a romantic comedy or a hard-hitting drama about addiction. The dynamics between Robbins and his addict son (Patrick Fugit) are compelling and well scripted, but the romance between Ruffalo and Paltrow often feels forced. Moments of poignancy and some strong performances save Thanks For Sharing, but it often feels slow, and it ultimately does not make the most of its subject matter, or its characters.