Heading into a hospital, no matter your reason for visiting, can be daunting. Even the most minor procedure means placing an immense level of trust in your medical team that you likely don’t know and may never see again. The Good Nurse twists the dagger into that particular well of anxiety in a story based on actual events. So be warned if hospitals already send shots of fear up your spine because this film will have you questioning your safety.
The Good Nurse is directed by Tobias Lindholm and based on the novel by Charles Graeber, starring Jessica Chastain as Amy Loughren and Eddie Redmayne as Charlie Cullen. Amy is an overworked and underpaid nurse on the verge of a severe health complication. Things instantly change when Charlie walks into her world and immediately injects her with something she’s been severely lacking, hope. But after a swell of mysterious deaths happens consistently on their ward, Amy begins to worry that she might not know Charlie as well as she thought she did.
Adapting a true story is quite a task, mainly when covering a topic such as medicinal homicide. I also find the timing of this film’s release incredibly tough to swallow, given the stressed state of the healthcare system during a pandemic and the loss of trust from certain sections of society. However, it’s important to remember this isn’t a fictitious event meant to exploit the topic but rather to spotlight the dangers and gaps in the system as it stands and the harm people can do from the inside.
While bearing in mind this happened, the story itself is a suspenseful look behind a curtain I was hoping never to see, but what incites far more fear is the ease and nuance with which Charlie goes about his murders. However, what is just as unsettling is how likable and charming Redmayne positions Charlie to be. The film takes the perspective of Amy, which highlights her incredible plight as a nurse suffering from a severe congenital heart condition that, if she doesn’t seek medical treatment soon, will kill her. The stress of the job and the lack of resources only speed up her timeline.
What I enjoyed most about Redmayne’s performance in this role is that his power for malice is so subtle. There are no evident evil grins or ambiguous statements about his intentions. The performance is unsettling because of the exploitation of this nurse in such serious need of a friend.
Chastain’s performance was good but oddly forgettable as well. She does elicit some level of empathy for the life she’s trying to maintain, but it sometimes feels like more of the environment and the plot than the performance itself. While this is more of a specialized role, she never felt like she took too much ownership of it.
The film also struggles to get out of gear with its first act and is painfully slow. This adds to my point of the risk of adapting actual events, but real life doesn’t play out like a movie. With that being said, there’s little to grip you off the bat, and I fear audiences will find the plot stagnant as the film attempts to set the backstory. Now the second and third acts hit the levels they’re expected to, and the intensity kicks up. Sadly though, the film suffers from a lack of editing to deliver a clear and concise message and is muddied by a lot of extra scenes. Ultimately it’s about 20 – 30 minutes too long.
Ultimately The Good Nurse suffers from a few setbacks, such as the pacing of the first act, a longer-than-needed run time, and an unconvincing performance from Chastain. Redmayne delivers an unsettlingly charming performance who doesn’t reveal his true face until the very end, and if you can hang in, the ending is pretty decent.
The Good Nurse is available exclusively on Netflix now.
The Good Nurse
Ultimately, The Good Nurse suffers from a few setbacks, such as the first act’s pacing, a longer-than-needed run time, and an unconvincing performance from Chastain. Redmayne delivers an unsettlingly charming performance who doesn’t reveal his true face until the very end, and if you can hang in, the ending is pretty decent.