Sexed out – Thanks for Sharing review

Thanks for Sharing

By Simon Miraudo
October 1, 2013

Mustering sympathy for a sex addict will always be a struggle. It’s not helped by the fact those suffering from this affliction seem to be exclusively New York mayoral candidates, flamboyant British comedians, and characters played by Michael Douglas in erotic thrillers: as far as faces of charitable causes go, they aren’t exactly starving children, if you know what I mean. Perhaps that derision isn’t fair though. Any addiction can destroy a life; vital needs like food, shelter, clothing, and personal safety put at risk by the frivolous spending and irrational activity that comes with needing to pay for your unusual – and intense – peccadilloes.

And that’s why this review is not about the validity of sex addiction, nor an indictment of those beleaguered by it. Instead, it’s about Stuart Blumberg‘s dramedy Thanks for Sharing, which seeks to make us care about those poor souls desperately trying to keep from derailing their lives in the pursuit of an orgasm. The problem here, however, is that the victims in this picture aren’t even remotely close to real suffering. The thing they’re most at risk of is being found out to be completely contemptible jerks; their crimes and transgressions deserving them a place in prison, rather than in our hearts.

Thanks for Sharing

Mark Ruffalo‘s environmental consultant Adam is an attractive sex addict five years sober, wondering whether or not he’s capable of starting a relationship with the feisty, sexually healthy Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow). I suppose that excuse for a rom-com pairing is as good as any other. More troubling is the wacky Neil (Josh Gad), a fellow addict who wackily rubs up against women on the subway, and wackily upskirts his colleagues with a camera on his shoe. So wacky, he is! Gad portrays Neil with a flustered, ‘aww-shucks’ innocence; a valiant but ultimately failed effort to be cinema’s cutest sex offender ever.

On the back of Steve McQueen‘s Shame, this thing looks particularly frivolous. Yes, that movie was also about a wealthy, handsome New Yorker plagued by his unquenchable thirst for strange. Yet, it never veered into saccharine sweetness. Michael Fassbender‘s silent, pained howl mid-ménage à trois sounds silly on paper. In practice, it was chilling. Thanks for Sharing‘s emotionally cathartic equivalent? A salsa dance between Neil and whichever character Alecia Moore (aka Pink) plays. She’s a sex addict too. Don’t worry about it.

Thanks for Sharing marks Blumberg’s directorial debut; a follow-up to The Kids Are All Right, which he co-wrote the Oscar nominated screenplay to. Kids had a warm hue, felt human, and taught millions of amateur gardeners how to appropriately use the word ‘fecund.’  Thanks for Sharing can boast no similar achievements. Tim Robbins is given the best lines, as Adam’s long sober sponsor, and Ruffalo can play a troubled, charming rogue in his sleep. But when Blumberg’s film heads into more melodramatic territory, and attempts to impart lessons about what it means to live and love, it feels – and apologies for the phrasing – masturbatory.

2/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews.

Thanks for Sharing arrives in Australian cinemas October 3, 2013.

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