Helen Rittelmeyer is obviously right that we’re in a cultural moment where addiction and recovery provide almost the only common language we have for exploring subjects like grace, penitence, and hope. Thanks for Sharing, the sex-addiction romcom starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark “Ruffalo Ruffalo ruffalo ruffalo ruffalo Ruffalo ruffalo” Ruffalo (…sorry), is yet another example of Helen’s point. Ruffalo (ruffalo) is a recovering sex addict named Adam, who after five years of sexual sobriety is ready-ish to start dating again, heavily prompted by his confident, overbearing sponsor (Tim Robbins). He and Phoebe (Paltrow) sort of hit it off, in an oddly rote and surface-level way, but he’s keeping his recovery a secret from her due to fear of judgment. Meanwhile his own sponsee, Josh Gad’s Neil, is dealing with his own even bendier honesty: He was court-ordered into the program after rubbing against women on the subway, and he lies to get a thirty-day chip he hasn’t earned in order to impress a girl (Pink, who is fantastic by the way–so is Gad, whom I hadn’t seen before).
The underlying philosophy is super-easy to criticize. There’s the usual flexible religion–“Your higher power can be an act of service,” which is very sweet but also kind of a caricature of works-righteousness–and there’s zero politics at all, no hint that patriarchal or misogynistic culture affects how men and women use sex. That stuff is important and this would be a better movie, maybe, if it grappled with them.
But this is a genuine, honest, compassionate and often very funny movie, well-acted and well-wrought. It is, and I hope you won’t take this the wrong way, touching.