Anabolic steroid use is on the rise around the world, more and more people are turning to them to get bigger, quicker, Anabolic Life takes a look.
Adam, Chris Levine (Blake & Shelly, Subculture (TV)) – who also wrote and produced, is a regular skinny guy in a job he hates, telesales, with a beautiful fiancée Sara, Sarah Baldwin (13 Cameras, Dads (TV)).
He hates the way he looks and decides he’s going to do something about it and joins a gym. But he’s not getting the changes he expects and so, in a bid to speed up the process, he cooks up his own steroids in a Breaking Bad-stylee.
This goes wrong and he collapses and winds up in hospital. After a short period of recovery he heads back to the gym and subsequently meets Jason, Thai Edwards (Demon, The Big Shot).
Jason is a big man and takes Adam under his wing. When he discovers Adam can’t afford the $600 he would need for the gear, he gets Adam to go and do runs for him, dropping off roids to his customers in exchange for his own stash.
Adam’s life begins to spiral as, despite him bulking up, he can’t see it himself. He loses his rag one day at work and is sacked by his boss, Daniel Baldwin (Two Faced, No Deposit). Then Sara finds out he’s shooting-up again and she leaves him.
Anabolic Life is an interesting take on a very current subject matter. Levine and fellow writers Cameron Barsanti (who also stars as Adam’s friend at work) and Landon Williams (who also directs) show things from Adam’s point of view. We see why he gets into steroids in the first place, what drives him. I will admit that it’s a tad flaky but I’m sure people have begun taking worse things for less.
Williams has a very unique style of directing which makes the whole film feel like a music video on more than one occasion. Sometimes this is funky and interesting, other times it’s just a little much.
Acting wise you can think daytime TV soap and you wouldn’t be far off. Levine is good as the down-at-heel skinny guy and manages to convey his angst when he’s paranoid and angry well. Edwards too performs well as the muscle with a heart (if you excuse the reverse pun), but the rest of the cast are a little too wooden and stilted and Adam’s father, Peter Holden (Alien Abduction, Lovelace), saying ‘man’ all the time to his son just makes you want to laugh.
I’d like to say the film does a good job of depicting what it’s like when a member of a family begins to take steroids, or what it does to a relationship, or to the person taking them.
I’d like to say that, I really would, but ultimately the film falls down by trying to cover all those bases, and more. Where the film is most successful is when it’s focussed on Adam and why he gets involved with these things to begin with and what he’ll do to continue getting them.
When the focus switches to other areas, things begin to get blurred and the uniqueness of the movie is lost. The performances and story aren’t strong enough to support all these themes and we linger just a little too long on certain aspects.
Anabolic Life is a unique cinematic take on an interesting and divisive subject. Had it stuck to a central, core theme and run with it, it would have been fantastic. Trying to cover so many basis, as it does, means they’re all a bit too diluted to all be truly enjoyable.