Plot via IMDB:
Amy, a compassionate nurse and single mother struggling with a life-threatening heart condition, is stretched to her physical and emotional limits by the hard and demanding night shifts at the ICU. But help arrives when Charlie, a thoughtful and empathetic fellow nurse, starts at her unit. While sharing long nights at the hospital, the two develop a strong and devoted friendship, and for the first time in years, Amy truly has faith in her and her young daughters’ future. But after a series of mysterious patient deaths sets off an investigation that points to Charlie as the prime suspect, Amy is forced to risk her life and the safety of her children to uncover the truth
The problem with based on fact serial killer movies is that the audience immediately knows who did it. There is no suspense there. So directors will concentrate on how they did it. How they were able to get away with it. The nuts and bolts of both being a good murderer but also the processes of the detectives charged with bringing the killer to justice.
Charles Cullen, the serial murderer of The Good Nurse is said to be responsible for over 400 murders. He confessed to only 29 of them. He never gave the police a motive for any of them. His total blank emotional back story makes Cullen a blank slate for a good actor to build a memorable and still creepy and horrifying character and performance.
Eddie Redmayne is use to being a morph. He has played an awkward Harry Potter sorcerer, the disabled physicist Stephen Hawking- for which he won a Best Actor Oscar, and 70’s political activist Tom Hayden. Cullen allows Redmayne to have a field day with both over emoting and subtle acting moments. Manic-depression fits within the serial killer arc. Slot Jessica Chastain as the coworker and naïve friend who slowly discovers his murderous side and The Good Nurse gets all the dramatic character moments it ever needs.
Director Tobias Lindholm, delights in moving the nuts and bolts around. He trusts his actors and technical team to deliver for him— and they do. He just does what he does best- believable action and character beats that allow the process of murder and exposure to be done with enough finesse to paper over the familiar story cliches. He shines the details.
How Cullen got away with his murderous spree for 16 years in nine different hospitals is left to the audience decide. Were his employers too strapped for resources and personnel to notice — or were they so scared of lawsuits that they selfishly pushed out Cullen to become another community’s problem without so much as a single bad letter of reference, let alone a call to outside authorities?
Lindholm, who grew up in a country with nationalized health care, is not partial to the capitalist nature of American hospitals, which stresses profits over patients, or even helping them. The hospital here is a house of horror run by the bureaucratic monsters who will willingly leave lunatic serial killers in control as long as costs are cut and profits increased.
Chastain’s Loughren, the sole good nurse doing her job with empathy, is portrayed as a victim of this system. The single mother of two is tirelessly devoted to her patients despite a heart condition that puts her at high risk for a stroke. Yet her own hospital won’t provide her with health insurance until she’s worked there for a year, a common plight for contract workers. Cullen is just another institutional cancer side effect. His actions compared to the monsters that allow it, until it’s no longer profitable for them, is the least horrifying thing in The Good Nurse.
The Good Nurse gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder
by Charles Graeber
- Scott Franklin
- Darren Aronofsky
- Michael A. Jackman
- September 11, 2022(TIFF)
- October 19, 2022(United States)
- October 26, 2022(Netflix)
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