Here’s a story about addiction and the fragile process of recovery. Most people would relate those words with drugs and alcohol. In this case, it’s about sexual addiction. Although questioned and doubted to be a “real” addiction, sexual compulsion has become a common, stigmatized, and unconventional behavior.
Director Stuart Blumberg takes us through the routines and upheavals of Adam (Mark Ruffalo) a single man who’s been “sober” for five years but still struggles with his demons every time he walks the New York streets where he is visually assaulted by the sexualization of women and the commercialization of sex. With Mike’s help (Tim Robbins), his twelve-step sponsor, he is beginning to venture again into the dating world. When he meets Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow) and they think there’s potential for a serious relationship, things get complicated by facing Adam’s behavioral compulsion.
Besides Adam’s story, we learn about Mike’s also. He is older, with a wife and grown up son who doesn’t get along with him. The humorous element to this otherwise sobering drama is brought by Neil’s character (Josh Gad), whose odyssey from the moment he is fired from the hospital he works at to his beginnings in the recovery group has some surreal scenes of insanity until meeting Dede (Alicia Moore) and they mutually help each other to learn to cope and manage their dysfunctional urges.
Without being unnecessarily sexually graphic, this film shows many eye-opening details of the struggles in the complex lives of these characters. It’s not an epic tale of heroic proportions but a well-acted human ordinary one. It’s a story about transparency, stigma, honesty, courage and acceptance.
See also with Mark Ruffalo: Spotlight (2015), Infinitely Polar Bear (2014).