Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain shine in an otherwise shaky take on the ways medical trust can be abused.
Trust is a fundamental aspect of any relationship. Whether it’s a friend, co-worker, or relative, developing trust in each other is what can make a beautiful bond flourish. But trusting someone is also giving them the ability to hurt us, leaving us always with the possibility of trusting the wrong person, and suffering because of it. Such is the case of Tobias Lindholm’s The Good Nurse, a film based on the real-life case of serial killer Charles Cullen. The overall tone of the movie is as gray as the dull hospital rooms in which the story takes place, taking away the energy from what would otherwise be a stellar thriller.
Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain star as nurses Cullen and Amy Loughren, respectively, delivering a very strong dynamic between them. The film kicks in when Cullen is transferred to work in the same hospital where Loughren makes a living to support her two girls. They quickly develop a friendship, and they are shown to be remarkable at what they do, although trouble doesn’t take long to come around. The number of patients who pass away under the care of these admirable nurses grows exponentially, and it isn’t long before Amy notices a sketchy pattern related to the deceased. A heart-wrenching search for the truth behind the deaths at the hospital slowly, but steadily, begins to take the spotlight.
Chastain excels in delivering a very subtle performance, relishing the quiet moments of the film where she uses her body language to communicate her character’s anxiety. Redmayne, on the other hand, utilizes the trademark coyness seen in plenty of his most recognizable roles to play a dormant threat.
Added to the marvelous acting, Adam Nielsen’s editing keeps the story flowing with ease, taking us from the rigorous police investigation to the more mundane moments of the story within a good balance. The editor understands screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns’ priorities deeply, providing that dialogue pulls you back in and creates constant suspense. An effort was made to probably leave some great material on the cutting room floor and, to the benefit of the audience, the final result is a very smooth pace.
Another strong element in this movie was Nnamdi Asomugha’s portrayal of Danny Baldwin, a state police officer who relentlessly wants to solve the case at Parkfield Memorial Hospital (a facility created for the movie). Asomugha plays a man full of swagger, who carries himself with a very low tolerance for nonsense. The former football cornerback’s charisma shines in the role with his intense looks and assertive delivery, positioning him as the best supporting cast member of the film.
The Good Nurse isn’t able to find its footing, and the credits begin rolling before it can ignite its own spark. Great performances and excellent editing can’t make up for the film’s lack of style, displaying a great deal of potential that ultimately leads to disappointment. Amazing concepts that were very close to a well-done execution plague the film’s script and direction. Nevertheless, whatever Lindholm takes on next should be on everyone’s radar, given his ability to obtain great acting from his leads and establish a cohesive atmosphere within the movie, even if the projects’ elements don’t make a good match.
The Good Nurse is currently streaming on Netflix.