The four lead characters in Thanks for Sharing - three men, one young woman - are coping with addiction in their various ways. Tim Robbins is particularly brilliant as Mike, the recovering alcoholic/sex addict, married to the unusually tolerant and understanding Katie (Joely Richardson).

At the addicts’ 12-Step meetings, Mike is sponsor for the gentle, charismatic Adam (Mark Ruffalo). With great difficulty, Adam has resisted succumbing to sexual stimulation - in any form - for five years. He prays to the “higher power” before breakfast, works for the postal service and travels throughout the US. (In hotel rooms he asks for the TV set to be physically removed to lessen sexual temptation.)

Interesting complications arise when he begins a romance with Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow). He omits to tell her about his sex addiction past, which has included prostitutes.

Meanwhile, Mike and Katie’s son Danny (Patrick Fugit) returns home, swearing he has not used drugs for nine months. Mike is slow to welcome his son, and wary of claims that he is clean. The relationship between parents and son is brilliantly realised in a film that strings along a number of separate stories with impressive ease.

Singer Pink (Alecia Moore, yes, that Pink) is strikingly impressive as sex addict hairdresser Dede, who falls for the shifty young doctor (Josh Gad), who is similarly addicted. An interesting conceit in the film is just how two such people might deal with each other when it comes to an actual relationship that goes beyond the physical.

It is perhaps too much to ask Thanks for Sharing to offer solutions to the intractable problems the film’s characters live with day in, day out. Instead, the film rather feebly tries to tie up loose ends, ending on a note that just doesn’t convince.

Nevertheless, Thanks for Sharing is a brave and intelligent film from director and co-writer Stuart Blumberg, whose previous work includes The Kids Are Alright and Keeping the Faith.

Paddy Kehoe

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