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A flawed comedy about sex addiction that's kept afloat by some very fine performances
Sex addiction: it’s a tough nut to crack. That, in a manner of speaking, is the theme of this ensemble comedy drama. Adam (Mark Ruffalo) and Mike (Tim Robbins) are in a 12-step sex addiction group, each at different stages of ‘sobriety’ but both successfully holding their demons at bay. Fellow grouper Neil (Josh Gad) claims to be equally in control but is actually drowning at the mercy of his base urges, a fact that he can’t hide for long.
The film follows these three men in key relationships: Adam with new girlfriend Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), Mike with his son (Patrick Fugit) and Neil with another grouper, Dede (a decent turn from the singer Pink). There are thematic similarities to Steve McQueen’s critical darling Shame, but where that film kept the main character’s struggle internal and solitary, this movie is the exact opposite: every character has someone to talk to about their issues, hence the title.
At its worst this makes the film feel more like a self-help video than a piece of drama, an effect compounded by the unstylish direction and visuals. A scene in which Dede introduces herself at a meeting is a prime example: she confesses her deepest struggles with a sincerity that would be commendable in a real meeting, but in a film feels like an awkward short cut to actually showing us this character’s life through her action.
Much better are the scenes following Adam’s budding relationship with Phoebe, which are funny and light on the surface, but given tension and power by what we already know about his struggles. This is a flawed debut for director Stuart Blumberg, but one of admirable honesty, kept afloat by some very fine performances.
General release from Fri 4 Oct.