My wife and I went to see “Thanks For Sharing” a couple of days ago. It’s high on the list of best movies I’ve seen, and definitely tops my list of films about addiction (replacing “Clean and Sober,” starring Michael Keaton and Kathy Baker, which held the top spot for well over 20 years).
Unfortunately, it’s also true that the very people it’s about — sex addicts — are probably the last people who should go to see it. My own issues in that department are not depicted in the film (I checked ahead of time), and even at that I found a couple of scenes troubling. A number of them have the potential to be highly triggering, especially for those addicted to porn, in early recovery, or still acting out and trying to stop.
That said, the portrayal of sex and love addictions and recovering addicts is accurate and to the point. “Thanks For Sharing” is a realistic, entertaining, sympathetic and — yes — humorous look at a problem that’s a lot more common and debilitating than the general public understands. I was especially impressed by the way sex addiction was shown to dovetail with other addictions, and the ways it can complicate recovery.
Perhaps “dovetail” isn’t quite the right word, because as many have found to their surprise and often dismay, sexual sobriety is a whole different ball of wax as compared to substance abuse, and even to most other behavioral addictions. Unlike substances and things like shopping and gambling, which can be avoided, sexuality is hard-wired into the human psyche and must be dealt with constantly. When desires become skewed, or deflected into unhealthy patterns, they mark the rest of people’s lives, their relationships with others and with themselves. And, since most folks’ arousal templates are set in the preschool years, their development is highly vulnerable to a wide and often devastating variety of influences. Such disturbances can be both lifelong, and life-threatening.
Although folks recovering from sexual issues should probably skip “Thanks For Sharing”, it needs to be seen by any adult who is connected in any way with an active or recovering sex addict. It should probably be seen by recovering people in general, because of the prevalence of sexual issues as secondary addictions and as substitute stimulation taking the place of substances. Any recovering alcoholic or other addict will be able to relate to the characters, their behavior and their issues.
One would hope that it will also be viewed by much of the general public, who still seem to find the idea of someone addicted to sex laughable, at best. However, despite a stellar cast that includes Gwyneth Paltrow (possibly the sexiest 41-year-old on the planet), Tim Robbins (fantastic as an AA old-timer with a lot to learn), Jolie Richardson, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Gad and Alicia Moore (a.k.a. Pink, who stole the show), the limited release, R-rating and resulting small domestic gross make it likely that the attention “Thanks For Sharing” deserves will have to wait for video.
And that’s a shame, because this movie can literally save lives.