Theres a moment in "Thanks for Sharing" where a woman finds out the man shes dating is a recovering sex addict. Shes upset he didnt reveal that fact immediately since she told him on their first date that she was a breast cancer survivor. He says he wasnt forthcoming because having cancer gets sympathy, while sex addiction is treated with disgust.
Its that view of the addiction that serves as the focus of this film from director and co-writer Stuart Blumberg. He offers a brutal and occasionally funny look at what its like to live with an addiction thats treated with disdain.
Most of the story is told through Adam (Mark Ruffalo), a successful businessman who has been "sober" for five years. Its not been easy. His battle with his urges are so tough that he cant even have a television in his room out of fear he will watch and react to inappropriate material. His battle has been so consuming that hes had little time for a social life.
That changes when he meets Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), a woman who embraces (maybe too firmly) every day of her life as a cancer survivor. Their relationship begins to fall apart when she becomes paranoid that everything Adam is doing is his giving into temptation.
Adams sponsor, Mike (Tim Robbins), is dealing with how his addiction has divided his family, especially through the disgust he feels for his addict son (Patrick Fugit). Great power comes out of this painful relationship.
Rounding out the multiple stories is Neil (Josh Gad), a young doctor attending addiction meetings by court order. Gad turns in a surprisingly strong performance, especially in scenes where he befriends a female (Alecia "Pink" Moore) addict who uses sex as a way of self punishment. They have some of the sweetest moments as each learns how to face problems with support.
Your initial reaction to a movie about sex addiction may be the same as Phoebes, who asks, "Is that even a real thing?" Blumberg shows that its very much a real thing. His blending of the stories is so smooth that it draws in the viewer and makes us care about the success and failures of each character.
Its a difficult challenge to start from a point of disgust and to win over an audience. But Blumberg does it. Not by trying to make the addicts heroic, but by telling rich and powerful stories that cast a harsh light on the realities of addiction.