BODY BROKERS, a film about the obstacles of recovery and a deep dive into the professedly altruistic rehabilitation industry, has left me feeling a little down with the specks of truth displayed, which, I believe, was the film’s intention. Directed and written by John Swab, it stars Frank Grilli, Michael Kenneth Williams, Melissa Leo, Jack Kilmer, and others to round out this great cast.
Our film starts with an ad on New West Rehabilitation Recovery Center, one of the many rehab centers that have popped up in Southern California. Through narration in the film, we then find out all the numbers and statistics that go into the health industry off of rehab facilities. Then we are introduced to our main protagonist, Utah (Jack Kilmer), and his girlfriend Opal (Alice Englert), holding up a grocery store for money to buy drugs. They are homeless and trying to find a way to make ends meet. While sitting in front of a diner, Wood (Michael Kenneth Williams) offers to buy them food. He mentions that he works in treatment and used to be in the same place they were, then endeavors to help them. Opal does not take kindly to the offer, but wanting to change his life around, Utah eagerly and naively calls Wood later on for help and jumps on a plane to New West, leaving Opal behind.
Once clean for weeks Wood pops up again with a proposition that is too good to pass. But as we all know, what goes up must come down. This is what Utah learns when struggling with his addiction becomes a big obstacle, and the world that was supposed to bring him stability starts to crumble from under him.
To me, the movie did well with showing the struggles that most people with addiction face. It shows the cycles that, for some, are continuous throughout their whole lives. It also shows the willpower it takes to stay clean, even when you think you are alright. You watch the main protagonist get swept up in a world that he naively jumps into, but you root for him to succeed. He’s been alone for most of his life and enticed by encouraging words and promises of money. But in the end, you realize that he is still a young boy surrounding himself with the wrong crowd. There was something about Michael Kenneth Wood’s portrayal of Wood in this film that kept me hooked. Though he is not the main protagonist in this story, you grasp on to his words and nuances throughout the film.
Personally, I think it dragged just a bit in the middle. Some scenes could have been left on the cutting room floor, but all in all, it was a good film. The cast was great, and rooting for the protagonist to find stability kept me watching.
BODY BROKERS is a crime film with a touch of humanity in it. It presents the very real seduction of drugs and the strength of addiction, the cost of surrounding yourself with the wrong people, and a looking glass into the predatory world of capitalism in the health industry. BODY BROKERS arrives in theaters, on Digital, and On-Demand February 19, 2021. You can pre-order the film on Apple here.