A month ago, in our Dumb Money review, we wrote that the “comedy-drama chronicling a complex but well-known phenomenon” genre is still in vogue. Pain Hustlers is the newest title in this category. Less comedic than most, but still light-hearted in its treatment, David Yates’ film looks at the pharmaceutical industry and the opioid crisis.

The director, who has spent the last 15 years in the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling – and Tarzan – uses popular techniques to tell the story inspired by an Evan Hughes book: freeze frames with narration, black and white interview-style scenes, flashy montage illustrating the rise to success. Neither bad nor transcendent.

The film stands out for the emotion it arouses. We can only sympathize with Liza Drake, played aptly by Emily Blunt (Sicario, A Quiet Place). Mother of an epileptic teenager, she struggles to pay the bills. Recently kicked out of her sister’s garage – where her mother (Catherine O’Hara, perfectly imperfect) also lives – Liza accepts Pete Brenner’s (Chris Evans, correct) offer to join the sales team from Zanna Therapeutics.

Not without difficulty, she convinced a doctor to write a first prescription for Lonafen, a powerful analgesic for cancer patients. The effectiveness of the fentanyl drug and the practice of questionable tactics turn into generous paychecks for her and Peter. Their rise in the company of Dr. Jack Neel (Andy Garcia, uneven) is meteoric. The latter, who gradually metamorphoses into Howard Hughes, exerts pressure that pushes Zanna’s representatives to force the hand of doctors to prescribe Lonafen for all types of pain.

A little late, the Wells Tower storyline shifts from the greed of Big Pharma to the ravages of opioids, still from Liza’s point of view. The vulnerability displayed by Emily Blunt convinces us of her character’s growing unease. The happy ending materializes quickly, especially considering the seriousness of the issue. The few lengths in the middle of the film would have been better spent in terms of time at the end.

Combined with the quality of the actors’ performances, the narrative of Pain Hustlers is entertaining and interesting enough to merit viewing at home on a cold fall day.