Never too much or too slow
BODY BROKERS (2021)
Body Brokers is a 2021 crime-thriller film directed by John Swab that tackles the drug treatment centres that opened throughout Southern California after Obamacare (which included help for substance abuse) and the ultimate scam that they became. According to the opening credits, this film is based on a true story.
This film reveals the horrendous truth that business and capitalism hide behind these treatment centres. Ultimately, those placing them in the treatment centres care more about getting them in by bribing with thousands of dollars than convincing them to save themselves. Swab does a beautiful job portraying this on screen, doing so through the character of Utah. Despite not being an addict myself, I get a clear idea of his wants and desires throughout the picture and why. Utah mentions multiple times that he feels unaware of who he is now that he’s clean - things I, as an audience member, didn’t ponder much until the final scene. Swab, brilliant! Beautiful!
The story follows Utah, an addict, who joins a treatment centre. He gets an opportunity upon completion to help Wood and earn money. However, he learns he is encouraging other addicts to join the program for a cut of what he gets for referring them - which only encourages the cycle of addiction rather than promoting change from the centres. The plot of this film is brilliant and easy to follow. Through injected explanations with voice over, they explain the logistics and money coming into this industry. It’s entertaining, educational, and a beautiful story. I was blown away by how amazing this was. I can’t wait to recommend it to every person I know. I’d also like to mention, Swab wrote this to emphasize the help you can get for addiction without getting stuck in these cycles. It’s difficult when it appears this person wants to help you then next thing you know, you’re involved. He also mentions the laws for treatment centres haven’t been updated since the 70s. I love when writers include ways to make positive change, and I can’t wait to see what else Swab writes.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Amazing. The casting couldn’t have been more spot on for the characters. Utah, played by Jack Kilmer, and Opal, played by Alice Englert, are truly believable addicts. The aggressive and fidgety behaviour found so commonly in addicts, as well as their exhausted eyes and exchanges are expertly portrayed. Wood, played by Michael Kenneth Williams, is brilliant on screen as a believable recovered addict. His flinching face when Utah shot up before entering the facility made me truly believe Williams may have had experience with drugs at some point throughout his lifetime. The acting really helped sweep me away into the world and feel sympathy and simultaneous sickness at all that is thrown at Utah. The character of Utah may appear 2-dimensional in that we don’t learn much about him besides him being an addict, however, this felt right in a sense. Being an addict, he even says himself that once he became clean he didn’t know who he was anymore. I believe Swab was intending to present the person Utah knew, a blank slate without heroin.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
This film is seemingly lacking in major special effects, as the story is very rooted in reality. With that being said, I assume there were effects used in general ways such as green screen use or background/establishing. Considering I presumed upon watching it was all filmed on location, that tells me the special effects were very well done! I loved the addition of the graphics, as it made it fun but also very educational by giving me a visual to help remember the statistics Swab is trying to emphasize.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The music fit very well, especially in those final scenes. Sound design was great; not too over the top, as I find a lot of films dealing with heroin use emphasize the lighter/bubbling too much. This was just perfect though. I liked that Utah’s breath was noticeable, as it helped me connect more with him in an immediate kind of way. For example, when he shows up at the office with the addicts in the van with cops present.
I am blown away by what I watched. I didn’t expect to see something this amazing. I wasn’t supplied with a trailer; all I had was a description, and my god. If you can try to avoid any trailers before going into this film, I promise you won’t be disappointed. It holds its own tone and style incredibly throughout the film. The pacing is amazing - never too much or too slow. I can’t recommend this movie enough. I will forewarn, this film obviously deals with heroin and opiate use/addiction and deals with overdose and deaths. If you can bear the heavy moments in this film, you’re in for an educational and absolutely necessary story.