Emily Blunt unveils the dark side of the pharmaceutical industry amid the opioid epidemic in “Pain Hustlers.”

Blunt leads David Yates’ film, based on Evan Hughes’ 2022 book, “Pain Hustlers: Crime and Punishment at an Opioid Startup.” Blunt portrays a single mother struggling to make ends meet as a stripper until a generous customer (Chris Evans) offers her a position as a pharmaceutical representative for fentanyl.

Per the official synopsis, Liza Drake (Blunt) is a blue-collar single mom who has just lost her job and is at the end of her rope. A chance meeting with pharmaceutical sales rep Pete Brenner (Evans) puts her on an upwards trajectory economically but dubious path ethically as she becomes entangled in a dangerous racketeering scheme. Dealing with her increasingly unhinged boss (Andy Garcia), the worsening medical condition of her daughter (Chloe Coleman), and a growing awareness of the devastation the company is causing forces Liza to examine her choices. 

Catherine O’Hara, Jay Duplass, Brian D’Arcy James, and Amit Shah also star.

Wells Tower wrote the script, with director Yates and Lawrence Grey producing. The Netflix film is billed as a “sharp and revealing look at what some people do out of desperation and others do out of greed.”

Director Yates told Entertainment Weekly that actress Blunt wanted to play a more “shady” character.

“She said, ‘You know what, David? I’m so sick of seeing leading female characters who have to be so honorable and straightforward.’ What she loved about Liza is she’s sometimes a little bit shady to get the deal done and fulfill her ambition, and she gets taken up by the whole rollercoaster of it,” Yates said. “And I think what we both love about that character is the fact that Liza is fallible, ultimately, and she sort of loses her way a little bit in the moral maze of it all. And I think Emily was excited by creating that character for the audience to see a woman who’s fallible and culpable and accountable for her actions.”

Read the IndieWire review from TIFF here.

“Pain Hustlers” premieres on Netflix October 27. Check out the trailer below.

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