Sex addiction has become an increasingly alarming and salient disease as of recent times. While many look upon the illness as some sort of grandiose myth men use to validate their infidelity, Thanks For Sharing, albeit long-winded, overly dramatised, and disastrously scripted, attempts to clarify those misconceptions.
Three distinctly defined people, bonded by a common sickness, undergo a 12-step program to treat their sexual addiction. Adam (Mark Ruffalo), now five years clean, is embarking on a genuine romance with Phoebe (a sexually driven, triathlon athlete played by the Gwyneth Paltrow). Sponsor for the aforementioned protagonist is Mike (Tim Robbins), a happily married man attempting to patch up his relationship with his recovering alcoholic son (played by Patrick Fugit).
Also thrown into the mix is Neil (Josh Gad), a hefty 20-something seeking guidance and advice from Adam, and hen Neil finally decides to dedicate himself, Dede (a rambunctious sex addict played by Pink) befriends the lonely lovable loser.
Stuart Blumberg’s directorial debut, the filmmaker clearly understands the severity of sex addiction and how it can destroy one’s life. However, Blumberg and screenwriter Matt Winston’s final product is neither serious enough nor comedic enough to make a statement on the polarising subject matter. The three disparate storylines interact with fluidity but little substance. None of the characters are particularly fascinating or relatable and it’s always difficult watching someone suffer through self-induced pain.
Given the sluggish pacing and disenchanting relationships and no foreseeable artistic vision in sight, it’s difficult see an audience for this vacuous and interchangeable drama. When considering the release of Shame last year – a dark, cold, harrowing, and unflinching portrait of the true psychological and physical ramifications of this tireless sexual disease, Thanks for Sharing simply pales in comparison.
The highlight of the film (and there aren’t many) is the surprisingly thoughtful turn from Pink, starring in her first major screen role. In fact, all of the performances are quite affable. Paltrow and Ruffalo have some unexplored chemistry worthy of feature film of its own, Robbins too develops his acting abilities as this tyrant father unable to cope with the return of his son.
Thanks for Sharing isn’t necessarily actively repulsive or awful. It’s just the type of wholly forgettable, perpetually grating, and immensely aggravating endeavor pitted with a pedigreed cast and an inherently alluring subject worthy of more affection, insight, and diligence. At least in the end, we’ll always have Shame.