The Good Nurse
Amy (Jessica Chastain) works night shifts in the intensive care unit of a New Jersey hospital and struggles with health problems of her own. A friendly soul to everyone, she immediately bonds with the new nurse joining their staff over egg salad and single parenting. She invites Charlie (Eddie Redmayne) to her home, introduces him to her children and even entrusts him with her delicate insurance situation. When a number of patients die under suspicious circumstances, Amy does her best to help with the ensuing investigation – and sets the authorities right on Charlie’s track.
Danish director Tobias Lindholm, who is perhaps best known as the co-writer for Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt and Another Round, makes his English-language debut with this adaptation of Charles Graeber’s true crime bestseller.
Unlike some of the more controversial Netflix productions, The Good Nurse does not attempt to rationalise or understand the behaviour of a serial killer. Little is learned about Charles Cullen in this feature, apart from the fact that he was capable of forming social relationships – which just makes the selectiveness of his empathy all the more unintelligible. Any “angel of mercy” angle of his acts is debunked, as his modus operandi of spiking saline bags resembled a haphazard game of Russian roulette that didn’t discriminate between the terminally ill and those on the road to recovery.
Lindholm’s drama verges on the genre of police procedural, but, instead of a representative of the law, the film decides to focus on Amy: a civilian, whose story may only be a tangent in the real criminal case, but which exposes a bigger picture of the United States’s corrupt medical system. Eerily similar to the infamous “priest shuffling” of the Catholic church, Cullen was passed around different hospitals whenever suspicions arose but never reported.
Because of this sober and detached approach, the two Academy Award-winners are not given a whole lot of rope to play with. Chastain stands on her mark and delivers on the emotional front, while Redmayne blends unobtrusively into the background for the better part of his screen time. There is a creepiness to this precise ambiguity, but the inconspicuousness bleeds into the rest of the film, making it a peaceable, yet rather forgettable affair.
The Good Nurse is released on Netflix on 26th October 2022.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Good Nurse here: