3 Stars – Sobering
For anyone who has ever been through an experience of addiction, or lived with anyone who has, it is a life-long daily challenge that requires a regimented discipline of accountability, honesty, and courage. Such is the fate of a cast of characters led by Adam (Mark Ruffalo) who has battled sex-addiction most of his adult life.
Adam has been sober for five years and is a good role model for others in his 12-step program, most of whom are newbies who agonize over the fact that their family and friends have a hard time understanding that “sex addiction” actually exists and isn’t just a line used by men to get what they want. Thanks for Sharing is a combination of drama and comedy, but overall it is one of the best presentations we have seen of people living with the struggles that addiction represents. It is not an easy story, nor is it probably appropriate for anyone under 18. Nevertheless, it has many endearing qualities that will give you a deep feeling for those who struggle with a nagging sense of failure.
Adam may be succeeding in his accountability after five years of sobriety, but he faces a true challenge when he finds himself falling in love with a beautiful woman named Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow). Having to learn how to appropriately show romantic love to a woman again is not an easy task when your brain constantly brings up old scripts of behavior, and sexual tension demands a response. Conversely, Phoebe has to struggle with what it means to want a man to desire her, and at the same time, not cause Adam to stumble in his new and daily walk in sober sexuality.
In this ensemble are also Neil (Josh Gad) and Dede (Pink) who are each in the same 12-step program. It is difficult for a man to understand what the drivers are in a woman’s sexual addition. It is also difficult for anyone who does not struggle with some form of sexual addiction to understand how much our culture, and most people on the street, send out sexual messages. To watch Neil trying to cope with young girls who are getting on the subway in short uniform skirts and seem to be oblivious to how their dress is like catnip to some men, or women rolling around on the gym floor in outfits that render them practically naked, is an eye opener. I found myself walking down the street after viewing this film startled by the sexual messaging that was in my face everywhere I turned.
Thanks for Sharing does not sugarcoat addiction, nor suggest that there aren’t going to be failures along the way. If anything, it is a realistic look at how those who struggle have to have accountability as well as compassion for the failures that are likely to come. Falling off the wagon, so to speak, is not a failure if it can be recognized as a step towards growth and understanding. It is just another part of life that you have to face and deal with.
This is a good story for those who are in recovery because it gives you hope. For the rest of us, it is a good, but difficult, reminder that we have to be healthy role models of accountability and compassion.
1. In a world that has always been captivated by sex, it is now more readily available through electronic media. How are you protecting your sexuality?
2. Addiction occurs when the brain is broken and the frontal lobes are disconnected. Due to this we need support in renewing our minds. How have you been supportive of a person struggling with addiction?
3. Becoming restored to a healthy life is as a part of recovery. But it is more than stopping the addiction, it is finding a new way to live. How can we help people in recovery to find new life?