The Good Nurse Review: Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne strongly carry this creepy medical thriller

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Cast: Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne

Director: Tobias Lindholm

Rating: 3/5

Language: English 

Synopsis: 

The Good Nurse is a true-crime story based on the case of Charles Cullen, a New Jersey nurse who in 2003 was finally arrested after apparently killing hundreds of patients over the years by covertly administering lethal, intravenous overdoses. The film is based on Charles Graeber’s 2013 book which chronicles the events of Cullen’s last hospital practice before he was arrested with the help of his fellow nurse Amy Loughren who helped detectives uncover his killings. The film rater than focusing on the perpetrator keeps Loughren (Jessica Chastain) at its center as she bravely co-operates to get Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) convicted for his medical crimes. 

The film also focuses on Amy’s personal struggles as a single mother without health insurance who is battling a heart condition that requires her to get a transplant surgery at the earliest. Amy (Chastain) is shown working as a night shift nurse who is three months away from getting eligible to have health insurance at her job and till then must stick out and overcome the physical strain that her condition puts on her. During this time, Amy meets Charles (Redmayne) who is hired to work on the night shift. After the two hit it off well from the start, Amy and Charles become further close after latter learns about her heart ailment and begins to help her by on a few occasions stealing medicines from the hospital for her and also becoming close to her daughters as they begin to spend time together. 

In the meantime, Parkfield hospital where Amy and Charles work at begins to see a rise in the number of code blue cases as patients begin to suspiciously die in an inconclusive manner due to unsuitable medicinal dosages. When detectives Danny Baldwin (Nnamdi Asomugha) and Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) begin to look into a case they face a sternly, non-cooperative environment from the hospital authorities, thus raising more concerns about Cullen and the seriosity of his crimes. With Chastain’s Amy soon deciphering Cullen may not be the person she assumed him to be, she begins to collect evidence to help build a case against Charlie, hoping for him to pay for his crimes. As the real-life story goes, Charlie eventually gets caught but the motive for his killings is never revealed.




Plus Points:

True crime has officially become that genre in film and TV which has a new release every week. Most movies based on true-crime tales also follow a similar plot where we meet a serial killer and there’s a tedious amount of time spent on showcasing the way they target and torture their victims and eventually a back story on what may have led them to do such twisted things. In the case of The Good Nurse, it’s a positive step away from that as we constantly meet two sides of Charles Cullen and it keeps getting ironic how on one side he’s quietly killing patients while on the other, being a loyal and helpful friend to Amy. Also, the story keeps its focus on Amy more than on Cullen and his twisted mind. It’s her alertness and vigilance despite being in a poor health condition herself that helps catch a criminal who has already gotten away with murders before from previous hospitals, all because when it comes to business, capitalist hospitals would rather fire Cullen over wrongly mentioned employment dates in his application than hold him responsible for the murder. Hence, The Good Nurse is more Amy’s story and her societal contribution in safeguarding patients than about Cullen’s brazen killings because no one stopped him.

Minus Points:

Crime stories need to be taut and thrilling in order to keep you on your toes and with The Good Nurse, there are some pacing issues. Despite its two-hour runtime, there are moments where the film gets too languid to keep you thoroughly engaged, it’s especially felt more when a film releases on a streaming platform because it gives you the leeway to pause and ponder and check your texts in between. Sometimes with the medium, the storytelling needs to change its approach and hence for a streaming film, The Good Nurse could have been more gripping than what we get served. 

Opinion:

The thing about The Good Nurse that’s most admirable is how subtle it remains in portraying the brutalities. For someone who did not have any background on the Charles Cullen case, I managed to go through a whole spectrum of emotions which moves from shock and horror at how casually Cullen has been killing patients at multiple hospitals all throughout his career, then the scare about Amy being one-hand away from harm at all times as she casually mingles with a serial killer without ever having an inkling of that and later sheer helplessness when the detectives have to beg for documents from hospital’s corporate departments who shamelessly coverup Cullen’s terrifying crimes. It’s probably this well-roundedness of the story that keeps it watchable at all times. 

The ending is no spoiler given that Cullen was convicted and is still serving his sentence in New Jersey yet there’s a scene where the detectives try to get Charles to confess to his crimes and it’s in moments like this where Redmayne shines with his performance. There’s also Tobias Lindholm’s eye for subtleties like the focus on how Redmayne’s Cullen keeps his hand while signing his release document after the hospital terminates him which make for quietly brilliant portrayals. 

While the treatment that this crime story gets may not be anything extraordinary given its straightforward approach, it’s the performances put up by Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain that make this film at its watchable best. Both Chastain and Redmayne have shown brilliance in the past when it comes to real-life people and they do it once again even when the personalities this time may not be larger than life and popular as their previous outings. Chastain’s measured performance makes Amy an instant favourite as the good samaritan and above all a professional genius. Both Redmayne and Chastain also convincingly bring their offscreen friendship onscreen in the scenes where Cullen and Loughren spend time together as colleagues. Eddie masters the sheepish walk of Cullen that would make him blend in the crowd as we see him casually walking off as one of the patients who was a victim of his dies after having a seizure. There’s also  
 Nnamdi Asomugha, whose detective act is so impressive that you wish he was used more in the film. 

Highlights:

  • Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne’s performances
  • Tobias Lindholm’s subtle yet impactful direction
  • A straightforward treatment to the crime tale

Conclusion:

The Good Nurse makes for an interesting watch for those who particularly who aren’t aware of the Charles Cullen case. The film doesn’t add too much drama to the true crime tale and hence if you aren’t looking for a detailed documentary on Cullen’s crimes, this makes for a decent watch on the account of his crimes. Chastain and Redmayne are two actors I would put my money on in most cases and with a film like this one which is subtly brutal, you won’t be too disappointed.

The Good Nurse Review

ALSO READ: The Forgiven: Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain try to cover up their heinous crime in new trailer

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