The good nurse is what it seems: yet another one of those true crime movies that Netflix produces with regularity. The only difference between this and another of the unlimited similar films in the streaming giant’s library is that this one stars two big Hollywood actors: Oscar winners Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne, neither of whom sleepwalk through the project. Both actors give their full attention to the roles and that, at least, is enough to keep the viewer engaged when the script fails – something that happens with disappointing frequency.
The film, Danish director Tobias Lindholm’s English language debut, chronicles the events as told in Charles Graeber’s rigorously researched 2014 book, The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness and Murder. Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) is a talented but shy nurse who moves from hospital to hospital for no apparent reason. He finds himself in an indescribable place in New Jersey alongside Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain), a single mother with heart disease. Although the stress of work can kill her, she needs health insurance to keep going. Charlie, recognizing her situation, befriends her and offers her help whenever she needs it. At first, she welcomes Charlie’s offer but an encounter with an old friend makes her realize something shocking about Charlie’s past. After the inexplicable deaths of two of her patients in Charlie’s care, Amy approaches two police detectives, Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) and Danny Baldwin (Nnamdi Asomugha), who are already investigating, with her belief that Charlie might be a killer. serial.
As disposable means killing a few hours, The good nurse is passable. It doesn’t do much right, but it does do what one expects of this kind of movie: dramatizing the various slippages that lead to an attacker’s downfall. Character development, however, doesn’t seem to have been of great importance to screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Amy and Charlie are defined more by the actors who play them than by anything in the script. We see a few scenes with Amy’s children and recognize that she is operating under extreme economic pressure, but the film has neither the time nor the patience to delve into who Amy is out of her career. The situation is even murkier with Charlie who is mostly a blank slate. Chastain and Redmayne’s performances fill in some of the holes, but not enough to dispel the feeling that they aren’t fully realized people. This limits the already sputtering tension, making for a rather uninspiring thriller. It also creates a distance between the viewer and the characters. When The good nurse over, I was strangely impassive. Reading a Wikipedia article would have been equally instructive.
Some of the more interesting aspects of the case are confusingly brought up and then dropped. Chief among them is the financial pressure that causes hospitals to mix in bad actors rather than call in the police. Lawyers and shareholders make the decisions, and when there’s an unexplained death or two, it’s easier to move a suspicious nurse elsewhere than to court the scandal that would accompany a public inquest. This is reminiscent of how the Catholic Church would move pedophile priests to different positions rather than defrock them and offer them to law enforcement. Although this element of The good nurse
might have provided fodder for juicier drama, it’s treated as a side issue that never gains much traction. The movie isn’t about how Charlie has been able to function for as long as he has; he wants to focus on his changing relationship with Amy.
With its Toronto Film Festival debut leading to a year-end premiere on Netflix, The good nurse arrives accompanied by hopefuls of Oscar. I don’t know why this is the case since, with the exception of strong performances across the board (especially by the two frontrunners), nothing here warrants more than passing interest. This seems to be another case of Netflix putting in the money to attract top talent but, having achieved that goal, not really knowing what to do with it. In a streaming series spread over four or six hours, this might have offered compelling content (and certainly would have felt less rushed) but, in its current format, it’s more frustrating than satisfying and the easy ending doesn’t hit the right spot. place .
Good Nurse, The (USA, 2022)