Saturday, 5 April 2014

Thanks For Sharing: DVD Review

Thanks For Sharing: DVD Review

In this comedy drama, three friends negotiate their way through the realities and temptations of being a sex addict; there's Ruffalo's Adam, who's five years sober, Gad's ER doctor who's attending meetings due to a court order and there's aphorism spouting Mike (Tim Robbins) who's been in rehab for a while and is a sponsee to Adam.

When Mike urges Adam to get back out there and start meeting people, he comes across Gwyneth Paltrow's perky but damaged Phoebe, who's had breast cancer and been in a relationship with an addict. Cautiously, the pair grow closer, acting on their initial attraction. But for Adam, the reality of his condition starts to intrude on his relationship.

Likewise, the arrival of Mike's addicted son causes friction between himself and his wife (Joely Richardson); and when Gad loses his job for inappropriate behaviour, he soon finds himself facing a harsh truth and needing the help of Alecia Moore AKA Pink's Dede, a fellow member of the group...

Thanks For Sharing is a rich piece, riddled with humour (mainly at Jonah Hill-esque Josh Gad) and fuelled by a powerful performance of addiction, which is grounded in reality by Ruffalo.

When he confesses to Phoebe, his thoughts are that "Cancer gets you sympathy, this gets you judgement" and it's probably the harsh reality of an addiction that's been thought of as simply a cover up for men cheating on their wives. But it's Ruffalo's honesty and earnesty as an actor while he's on this journey and its lucid insights which just manage to keep this on the right side of drama; while the comedy's amusing in places, it comes dangerously close to trivialising the addictions they face. Ruffalo excellently conveys the sympathy needed to root for this central character and his relationship with Phoebe as he battles with the addictions he's had. In fact, one scene where Paltrow delivers him a strip-tease is more completely inappropriate than tantalising given how it comes shortly after he confesses his condition. But that scene alone is symptomatic of a few of the problems of Thanks for Sharing - some of the narrative feels rushed and dare I say it, predictable; Paltrow's act would have had more resonance had it happened later on in the film. Likewise, Mike's journey from sanctimonious bon motif spouting holier than thou to inevitably wrong father is one that can be seen coming from a mile off. He's a guy who's wrecked his family and would rather be there for others than for those around him and his lesson learning is entirely unsurprising.

It's perhaps Josh Gad and Alecia Moore (in her first role) who really rise from this film; Moore's tearful confession in her first scene at the addiction class is wonderfully moving and heartfelt - it shows she is an actor on the rise; and Gad, while endowing his out of control ER doc with some humour, rises to the occasion as well.

But a terribly Hollywood, neat resolution ending almost leaves the audience feeling cheated as it powers towards a sunnier day where all our protagonists are in a good place. It's a crass ending to a film that's worked so hard to show that sometimes being out of control isn't very easy to control.

All in all, Thanks for Sharing has moments of inevitability but due to the character work done - especially by a wonderful Ruffalo - while exploring this maligned of addictions, it does just about what it sets out to do.


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