Entertainment Magazine

Pain Hustlers

Posted on the 26 November 2023 by Sirmac2 @macthemovieguy

Where I Watched It: Netflix

English Audio Description Provided By: International Digital Center

Written By Liz Gutman

Emily Blunt has been deep in the conversation this year for an Oscar nomination for her supporting turn in Oppenheimer. It’s a little telling that no one is trying to make a case for a nomination for her here, as this role has a lot more screen time and is also based on a true story. That’s because Pain Hustlers really isn’t that good. Which is surprising considering director David Yates, who spent quite a bit of time propping up the various Wizarding World entries. One day, Emily Blunt will be recognized, but it should be for a role she’s truly fantastic in and a film that respects her talent. Here, she feels like she’s carrying the film, and even in that regard it’s a struggle.

Pain hustlers is yet another project about the overuse of painkillers in America, except this one focuses on how Phentenol came to be, taking a slight break from the Oxy series we’ve had. Blunt plays a woman who stumbles into an opportunity to make a ridiculous amount of money if she’s willing to sell her soul and push some painkillers. To keep her sympathetic, and stuck in a perpetual moral quandary, blunt also has a daughter who has a tumor that causes seizures, and the surgery is expensive.

Along the way, she meets Chris Evan’s, who mentors her at the company while doing his best Mark Wahlberg impersonation, and Andy Garcia as the head honcho behind one of the most addictive drugs ever created.The film works through Blunt’s rise, as well as the drugs, and then her eventually deciding to try and help the government with their case against her company. This is where a lot of the movie starts falling apart for me, though it loses me along the way.

I didn’t like how the film does these testimonial moments with the actors. They aren’t real, and this isn’t a documentary. I don’t mind Evans’s performance, but his accent is distracting. And, in general, this being late to the party for a painkiller drama, it had mountains to climb to reach the levels of something like Dopesick, and it just never got there.

Audio description wise, it is written well, but I thought the narrator was a bit too upbeat for the subject matter. While Pain Hustlers isn’t the darkest film to ever be made, it does tackle a serious topic, and it only gets more and more serious. I think a different choice should have been made. Gutman’s script for the audio description already had to work around the extra talking head portions that were a waste of time.

But, like she is in most things, blunt is terrific. Even in Oppenheimer, she was given almost nothing to do, but you hand her a few lines of dialogue, and she slays it. She’s a fantastic actress who deserved nominations for much of her past work, like A Quiet Place or The Devil Wears Prada, but instead, this is what we get.

Final Grade: C+

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