According to a review from the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, “Pain Hustlers was very enjoyable. Emily Blunt completely dominated the screen, and I loved every second of it. The story had very mild pacing blips, but David Yates directs a really fun and interesting telling of this big pharma tale.“
‘Pain Hustlers’ Plot:
Based on the real-life story of capitalism run amok — chronicled by journalist Evan Hughes in his 2022 narrative non-fiction book, The Hard Sell — Pain Hustlers lures you into the glamour and excitement of success, however, it may be achieved. Liza Drake (Blunt) is a single mom working as a dancer at a bar when she meets Pete Brenner (Evans), a greasy drug rep for a pharmaceutical startup on the verge of bankruptcy. With a hunch about her talent, he recruits her to peddle a new kind of opioid designed to give pain relief to cancer patients.
Completely out of her depth, Liza struggles to make a dent before convincing one doctor to favor her company’s drug, cracking the code, and writing a new (unscrupulous) playbook for getting physicians to prescribe medication. She quickly makes her mark and forms a dazzling team that starts applying the scheme across the country. It rockets the company and Liza’s life to heights she could have never imagined. Liza eventually wakes up to the harm she’s sowing, which only complicates her relationship with Brenner, as he begins to see her as more than just a sales quota. We root for Liza to provide a stable home for her daughter and help her mother (Catherine O’Hara), all the while doing our best to avoid the truth that she’s helping kickstart the opioid epidemic. It’s a stunning feat from Blunt, who gives a compassionate performance as a woman flying too close to a sun that’s destroying people’s lives.
Directed by Yates, the film is adapted from Evan Hughes’ 2022 book of the same name, with a screenplay by Wells Tower. The film also stars Andy García, Catherine O’Hara, Jay Duplass, Brian d’Arcy James, and Chloe Coleman. (See the set images).
‘Pain Hustlers’ will hit select U.S. theaters on October 20, 2023, before becoming available for streaming on Netflix on October 27, 2023.