Stuart Blumberg's film helps us understand the life of a sex addict - but does not really connect with the audience

Sex addiction is often viewed as a “made up” disorder for people who cannot remain in faithful relationships and sleep around. But in the last decade or so it is now viewed as a genuine disease by medical experts.

It is a debilitating condition, affecting every aspect of a person’s life yet there is still a huge stigma surrounding the issue.

In Thanks For Sharing, director and co-writer Stuart Blumberg(The Kids are Alright), sets out to show that sex addiction is just as damaging as drink and drug abuse.

The film follows addicts from the same ‘sobriety’ group trying desperately to maintain some sort of normality in their lives.

12 steps

Mike (Tim Robbins) plays the meeting patriarch and recovering addict who, despite his wisdom and leadership in the 12-step meetings, struggles at home when his estranged former drug-addict son returns home to make amends.

His fellow meeting member, Adam (Mark Ruffalo ), is an environmental consultant who is successfully five years sober and with the encouragement of Mike, gets back into the dating game. But when Adam meets Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), his inner demons and dark desires attempt to break through his suppressions.

New to the group is Neil (Josh Gad) a young doctor whose inappropriate sexual advances are ruining his medical career. In denial about his problem, he uses humour and deceit to convince others and himself that he is doing fine. But in an attempt to rescue herself fellow newbie Dede (Alecia Moore, aka Pink) reaches out to Neil, snapping him out of his denial.

Thanks For Sharing borders between a comedy and a drama, never really deciding which one it is, leaving the audience unsure of what to make of the whole thing but it is the performances of some of the lead characters that manage to give the film an extra boost.

Temptation

In one of his better roles, Mark Ruffalo skilfully lifts the lid on the life of a recovering addict; detailing how in control they must be at all times to resist temptation. His character does not own a TV, laptop or smartphone out of fear of relapsing.

When he does fall off the wagon you genuinely worry for his sanity as he loses his voice of reason. His potential romance with Phoebe never takes off as she cannot get over his problems, proving that any sort of addiction can be detrimental to a relationship. However it’s hard to feel sad about their failed romance as Ruffalo and Paltrow never manage to create any chemistry between their characters.

The real interest in the film is Neil by superbly by Josh Gad (whose performance may earn him the title of the next Jonah Hill). His role is part of the comedic side of the story but his strong denial and hilariously sad struggle with his addiction makes his recovery all the more real. His scenes provide the light-hearted moments and if this were a full-out comedy, he most certainly would have stolen the show. His friendship with Dede (a strong acting debut from the singer Pink) sums up the message of the film: you can’t beat addiction on your own.

Disconnected

Overall the film is disappointing. The lack of character development throughout the film leaves us unable to connect with their personalities. While building up nicely for an emotional and powerful ending the film loses steam, leaving us with an underwhelming finale.

The film does succeed in making you think about sex addiction in a new way and giving the sufferers a chance to gain sympathy from the audience. But a script that lacks imagination and confusion on what it wants to portray really holds everyone back.

Thanks For Sharing is in cinemas this Friday (October 4).