The Good Nurse Review

The Good Nurse
Single parent Amy (Jessica Chastain) works as an ICU nurse while secretly battling serious heart issues. When a new colleague, Charlie (Eddie Redmayne), befriends her, she is grateful for his help and assistance, until a police investigation into mysterious patient deaths causes her to look at him in a new light.

by Catherine Bray |
Release Date:

26 Oct 2022

Original Title:

The Good Nurse

True crime has traditionally lent a veneer of respectability to some pretty sleazy film and TV. The logic seems to be that if something really happened, filmmakers can’t be blamed for wanting to dramatise it. Of course, how filmmakers go about presenting a narrative can vary wildly, meaning in practice that the true crime genre is home to everything from the most exploitative of sexy murder sagas to the most righteous and respectable of dramatisations. The Good Nurse falls into the second category.

The Good Nurse

Based on the notorious case of Charlie Cullen, an American nurse convicted of murdering 29 people and who may have been responsible for up to 400 deaths, Krysty Wilson-Cairns’ script is at least as interested in the failures of the multiple hospitals that neglected to report their suspicions about Cullen as it is in Cullen himself.

A finely calibrated portrait of tragic events which reserves the lion's share of its anger for systemic failures.

Eddie Redmayne does excellent work as Cullen, but Jessica Chastain as Amy Loughren is the real lead. It’s an unusual role — in most films, the unwitting female friend of a serial killer is a minor character, a stooge who stands a good chance of meeting a sticky end herself — but here Chastain takes centre stage, blending vulnerability and guts to portray a woman who is neither total dupe nor all-powerful superhero.

Director Tobias Lindholm is perhaps better known as a writer (he wrote The Hunt and Another Round for Thomas Vinterberg) but all that work scripting films preoccupied with culpability pays off handsomely here and sees him deliver a finely calibrated portrait of tragic events which reserves the lion’s share of its anger for systemic failures. This is a story that reminds us that disturbed individuals will always exist, but asks whether the real shame belongs to (or should at least be shared by) the societies and systems that enable them.

A tense true crime thriller that avoids schlock horror tropes in favour of a welcome focus on the environment that allowed one of America’s worst serial killers to operate freely for years.
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