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THANKS FOR SHARING

SYNOPSIS:
Mentored by the older Mike (Tim Robbins), Adam (Mark Ruffalo) enters a 12 step program for sex addicts, and himself becomes mentor to overweight young ER doctor Neil (Josh Gad); the group also includes DeDe (Pink). But then Adam meets and falls for Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), who is unaware of his addiction.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There is a pop culture twang to 'thanks for sharing', an instant pseudo-psycho correctness; it's a phrase that's been debased by its multiple uses in therapy sessions for the damaged and vulnerable. But writers Stuart Blumberg and Matt Winston have subverted this phrase to their own, wonderful ends: in the context of their film, we understand that it's the expression of a sincere feeling between damaged, challenged, weak and/or imperfect people who are managing to survive by sharing their flaws.

Yes we all know that, yes we all recognise how sharing pain helps ease it, but it's one thing to intellectually know this and quite another to watch a screenful of characters come alive as they experience it - for our emotional consumption.

Blumberg's co-written screenplay The Kids Are All Right (2010), directed by Lisa Cholodenko, showed his capacity for insight, observation and warmth in the process of dissecting human nature. And if you think sex addiction is a subject for lightweight comedy and flim flam ... wait till you see Thanks For Sharing. Of course, there is comedic mileage to be had, but not exactly as expected and not as lightweight.

There is a family at the centre of the story, a fractured family where Mike (Tim Robbins) is a senior mentor in the addiction self help group to Adam (Mark Ruffalo) - not the first man to find that sex has consequences. Mike's long stint out of addiction is still fragile, but that's not his problem; his problem is the father/son curse and his stupid misplaced maleness about it. Performances are all exceptional, as Robbins gives us the complete character, strengths, flaws, warmth and stupid all rolled into one. He's serenely matched by Joely Richardson as his wise and caring wife, loving mother to their once wayward now prodigal son, superbly played by Patrick Fugit. Much of the film's emotional ballast is carried by these three.

But not all: Josh Gad and Pink pack a punch as addicts whose lives hang by the thread of fear and self loathing, each destined to take a trip on the narrowest of ledges.

The film belongs to Mark Ruffalo in many ways, the central figure whose addiction, failure and redemption takes us in and out of laughter, tears and introspection. Gwyneth Paltrow is fresh and fabulous as Phoebe, a complicated young woman who has had her share of addicts and wants nothing more to do with them, notwithstanding her being a gym junkie. And so it goes, all our contradictions crashing into our good intentions like drunken guests at the party we thought would never end.

Review by Louise Keller:
There are considerably different undertones in this Sex and the City addiction drama that makes us view life from a different angle, although the perfunctory nature of the exposition flashes an orange light. Stuart Blumberg's film (and directing debut; he wrote The Kids Are Alright) has more mainstream appeal than Steve McQueen's 2011's Shame with Michael Fassbender, as it takes an ensemble approach, allowing three key storylines to intermesh. Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow head the fine cast, although it is Pink (as Dede) and Josh Gad (as Neil) who steal the show.

It is through Ruffalo's Adam, celebrating five years of sobriety with his support group and sponsor Mike (Tim Robbins) that we join the circle of predominantly men, who meet regularly to share details of their addiction as they look for support. There is more to
Mike than initially meets the eye; he may be the lifeline for Adam and other struggling addicts, but he is walking his own tightrope of angst. When we meet Neil (Gad), the roly-poly jokester who cannot take public transport for fear of molesting a stranger, there is little that is redeeming about him. Supporting each other is how the group functions and surprisingly, it is the forthright, crude Dede (Pink) that makes a positive impact (and visa-versa) with Neil. Gad and Pink simply nail it and their scenes zing.

The relationship that develops between Adam and Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) begins on an interesting note over bug-skewers and dinner by Skype and Phoebe's refreshing honesty is a contrast to Adam's reluctance to confide in her. Paltrow is terrific and looks great, too - especially in her skimpy underwear. Ruffalo is a solid talent, the script not living up to expectations for his character. I also like Joely Richardson as Mike's wife; the sub plot involving their former drug addict son (Patrick Fugit) and especially the father/son relationship is one that brings the film's biggest emotional hit.

Manhattan is portrayed as a catwalk for half-naked poster girls and billboards and with short-skirted, big breasted women bouncing along the footpath, offering sex addicts a temptation at every street sign. Blumberg makes us look at the world in a whole new way and even a couple kissing sweetly in the park can act as a trigger, along with tiredness, happiness, boredom and anxiety. The ride is uphill and down dale and while everything feels a little forced, there are some involving and intimate moments and thought provoking ideas that are elevated by its quality cast.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

THANKS FOR SHARING (MA15+)
(US, 2012)

CAST: Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo, Pink, Joely Richardson, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad, Patrick Fugit, Carol Kane

PRODUCER: Miranda de Pencier, David Koplan, Bill Migliore, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech

DIRECTOR: Stuart Blumberg

SCRIPT: Stuart Blumberg, Matt Winston

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Yaron Orbach

EDITOR: Anne McCabe

MUSIC: Christopher Lennertz

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Beth Mickle

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Transmission

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 3, 2013







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