Director: Tobias Lindholm
Writer: Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne, Nnamdi Asomugha, Kim Dickens, and Noah Emmerich
The Good Nurse is directed by Tobias Lindholm, adapting the non-fiction book of the same name by Charles Graeber. It’s the story of Charles Cullen, a serial killer nurse who was able to get away with killing patients at various hospitals for sixteen years, purely due to the hospitals not wanting it to come back at them. The film follows another nurse, Amy Loughren, played by the fantastic Jessica Chastain, who helps police take down Charles Cullen, played by the equally fantastic Eddie Redmayne.
Both Chastain and Redmayne are phenomenal. Amy is an instantly likeable person, someone who takes their job very seriously, going above and beyond to help every patient. She’s also sick, but is unable to take time of work due to not having worked at the hospital long enough to have medical insurance. It’s a tragedy that someone who’s so vital to helping others, is unable to get the help she needs. In real life, she has a happy ending, receiving the help she needed and is still a nurse today.
The first scene shows Charles as he watches a patient dying, the camera focusing on him as others in the room rush around to save them. You can tell there’s something off about him, but you’re not quite sure what. The same thought arises later when he cleans up one of his victims to make her presentable for her husband, after her death. He labours over it, as if he genuinely cares, but there’s something sinister underneath. Beyond that he seems so nice and caring towards Amy that you don’t want him to be the killer. He seems to really care about her, looking after her while she’s ill and helping with her children. The real Amy Loughren has said that Charles was two different people. Her friend, and the serial killer, and that’s definitely shown on screen.
The other side of the story is the two police detectives who are investigating the death of one of Charles’s victims. They’re only investigating it as the hospital have contacted them after a seven week internal investigation, but at the same time they’re not co-operating with the police, keeping their own investigations secret in order to save their reputation and avoid lawsuits. It’s a frustrating conspiracy that’s sadly pretty close to what happened in reality.
This is one of those true story films that feels like it must be exaggerated, and yet somehow the actual reality is somehow even more unbelievable than what’s shown on screen. It only hints at Cullen’s history with mental health, and the amount of suspicions raised about him in previous hospitals isn’t fully explored. There were even victims who claimed he was in their room when he shouldn’t be, and yet he was still able to get work, still able to kill more people. There’s some text at the end of the film that although he was only convicted of twenty-nine murders, it is estimated the amount of deaths is around four hundred, making Charles Cullen the most prolific serial killer in history. After watching this you’ll be lost down a rabbit hole of researching, and it’s hard to comprehend just how he got away with it for so long.
With some great performances and a terrifying true subject, The Good Nurse is an excellent film. It’s a tense thriller and one that’ll stay with you long after the story ends.
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