Soundtrack Reinforces the Comic Poignancy of Thanks for Sharing
Reviewed by Nadja Maril
“Thanks for Sharing” is the expression I tend to use when someone has given me way too much personal information and I’m trying to be polite. But when you are an addict attending a support group, part of the healing process is sharing. Honestly verbalizing your feelings helps facilitate recovery.
The majority of characters in the movie “Thanks for Sharing” directed by Stuart Blumberg, screenplay by Blumberg and Matt Winston, are doing just that—attempting to recover from addiction. These addicts played by actors Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad, and Alecia Moore are not your typical drug, gambling, or alcohol addicts. They are addicted to sex. They are so addicted to sex that they are unable to successfully function in their daily lives. A ride on the subway brings the temptation of other people’s bodies to rub against, while a computer provides access to tempting pornography sites. Even a television is a forbidden item for a sex addict in recovery as it might provide entertainment, which could awake subdued desires.
Tim Robbins plays Mike, group leader and mentor/sponsor of Adam played by Mark Ruffalo, who has been in recovery and has been celibate for five years. Adam is finally ready to attempt a committed relationship with a woman. The object of his desire is Phoebe, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who has her own challenging personal issues. Five years earlier she had breast cancer and has prosthetic breasts. Cancer free, she is fixated on healthy living, which includes strenuous exercise and a vegetarian diet. Her previous boyfriend was an alcoholic and on their first date she tells Adam she doesn’t want to date another addict and asks whether he ever had a drinking problem. While this logically would have been the perfect time to come clean with the story of his sex addiction, Adam is too infatuated with Phoebe to risk losing the opportunity for intimacy so early in their relationship.
The push and pull of the relationship between Adam and Phoebe and Mike’s relationship with his own family take center stage in this well constructed screenplay that is both humorous and sad, but it is the relationship between nymphomaniac Dede and food and sex obsessed ER doctor Neil which really tells the story.
The unlikely friendship between the tattooed punk style beautician played by Alecia Moore (also known as singer/song writer Pink) and the young overweight Mama’s boy physician played by Josh Gad includes the gift from Dede of a pink bicycle that enables Neil to travel around the city of New York without the need for expensive taxis or the off limits subway. It’s while he’s on that bicycle, drenched in perspiration because he is way out of shape and you are routing for him to succeed in reaching his goals, that I first became consciously aware of the film’s soundtrack and how much I liked the music. Soundtrack music can create mood, suspense, and elation. It can bridge the passage of time and convey the connections forming between the characters. But movie music is not necessarily music you want to listen to on its own. The “Thanks For Sharing” soundtrack music is notably good. So good that I made a mental note to purchase the soundtrack for future listening and I did. The lines in “This Year” as performed by the Mountain Goat, This time I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me, reinforced the efforts of the characters seeking to control their addiction and improve their lives. At the movie’s end when I heard Billy Bragg sing Tender Comrade and the lines, What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade? Will you say that we were brave as the shells fell all around us?, the message of the bonding that developed between the characters was reinforced.
After purchasing the soundtrack online and starting to write this review I took a look at the soundtrack notes and learned just how important the soundtrack songs had been to writer/director Stuart Blumberg. He writes, “this movie’s soundtrack is heavily indebted to songs that have meant a lot to me over my life…The ones I chose were united by a common element: the primacy of the voice. Literally, their human voice. I wanted those voices to stand as counterpoint to the voices of characters, who throughout the movie, bare their souls in the safety of the room of their 12 step programs.” His song selection did not go unnoticed.
Thanks for Sharing premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in the United States last month (Sept.20, 2013). I recommend seeing the film and I recommend buying the soundtrack.