TIFF 2012: Stuart Blumberg’s directorial debut ‘Thanks for Sharing’ delivers best of both worlds

Thanks For Sharing
Written by Stuart Blumberg
Directed by Stuart Blumberg
USA, 2012

Since Keeping the Faith, whether we’ve readily known him by name or not, Stuart Blumberg has had our attention as a reliable screenwriter with a knack for endearing characters equal parts cinematically punchy and realistically relatable. The Girl Next Door strongly reinforced his arrival, earning enough benefit of the doubt to carry him through the uncharacteristically blasé The Kids Are All Right. By his own admission, he has had the great fortune of working with solid directors, including his Yale roommate Edward Norton who serves as producer (and, incidentally, an excuse to say two Hulks are involved with one film). With Thanks For Sharing he emphatically proves prowess in accentuating  the words on his pages himself, marking an exceptional second arrival.

Mark Ruffalo takes point for the ensemble as Adam, a 5-years sober sex addict and respected member of a support group that includes veteran sponsor Dave (Tim Robbins) and new recoverers Neil (Josh Gad) and Dede (P!nk). We are brought in to an initially stable phase of this quartet’s ongoing struggle that branches through instantly affecting relationships to further issues with addiction in general involving turns from Gwyneth Paltrow, Patrick Fugit, Joely Richardson and Emily Meade. Describing the film feels as though describing a rote television melodrama, but rest assured we are leagues ahead here.

The film’s first hurdle is to convince of the central condition’s severity. With banana oil about alleged sex addiction so prevalent in the tabloids, Adam’s approach to explaining the form of disease goes a long way on top of the tabloid issue being directly addressed in brief. From that earliest point it is difficult imagining any audience member failing to find – or be led to – topics and arcs to latch on to and not let go of until forced by the credits’ inevitable bow.

Blumberg’s fittingly hip dialogue is in top form, ensuring consistent triumph for the already winning chemistry between his actors and bolstering the cogent emotional development that commences from the very onset. Ruffalo and Paltrow share an on-screen relationship reminiscent of transcendental contemporaries such as Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz in Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky. The superbly performed extended family quadrangle of Robbins, Fugit, Richardson and Ruffalo becomes an emotional highlight, bringing the picture’s every current together for one turbulent whirlpool.

Thanks For Sharing combines elements of artistically successful independent vision with more accessible production values and pacing to create a film conceivably for anyone and everyone. It is a new millennium Billy Wilder in the sense that it so effortlessly and captivatingly makes you laugh and cry – occasionally at the same time. Blumberg’s documented talent continues to rise as the man enlightens, entertains, and encourages us to realize and address our own addictions of any kind – how they affect our lives and the lives of those around us.

- Tom Stoup

Learn more about Thanks For Sharing at TIFF 2012 here and the Toronto International Film Festival here.

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By Tom Stoup

Perpetually aspiring filmmaker Tom Stoup has been regularly featured as an editor, interviewer and contributing writer in Icon Magazine, Behold Florida and ReelTimePodcast.org. He has earned a degree in the science of film, currently co-hosts "Almost Arthouse" with Ty Landis and blogs at WeToldYouWhattoDream.blogspot.com.

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