‘THE Good Nurse’ is a true crime drama first shown in theaters then released for streaming in Netflix. It is based on a best selling book by Charles Graeber about a male nurse, who has killed an estimated 400 patients while working in nine various hospitals, and the female nurse who helps the police in nailing him.
The film is set in 2003, Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) is a nurse at a hospital in New Jersey. She is very dedicated to her job but no one in the hospital knows she has an alarming heart problem that needs surgery.
She cannot deal with it as she has no medical insurance and she’d be dismissed if they’d find out. It will take four more months before she becomes permanently employed in the hospital to get benefits. She’s also a single mother with two small daughters.
A new nurse from a hospital in Pennsylvania joins them, Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), and he is very friendly to her, specially after he learns her heart condition and it becomes their secret.
He helps her even with her two kids.
Soon, an elderly female patient under the care dies and police detective Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) and Danny Baldwin (Namdi Asomugha) start digging about it.
Amy is questioned about Charlie and she tries to defend him. The cops face a blank wall since the hospital won’t cooperate with them. Then another female patient dies and Amy realizes that both patients were administered insulin when they were not even diabetic.
She then meets with a friend who is also a nurse in the hospital where Charlie used to work before and she learns that when Charlie was with them, there were several sudden deaths due to insulin.
Amy investigates on her own and discovers several dextrose bags have been punctured with telltale holes to inject toxic insulin and fatal digoxin in them.
We enjoyed the film because it is presented without any hysterics, all very quiet and even understated. Actually, the material is shocking because it’s based on a true story. Anyone can be confined in a hospital without knowing there’s a psychotic serial killer of a nurse in it who kills defenseless patients with so much malicious intent.
The film is directed by Tobias Lindholm, an acclaimed Danish writer-director and this is his debut in Hollywood. He treats his film with so much restraint and for us, it makes the story more gripping and it gets under your skin.
Even the cinematography uses a very subdued color palette and the musical score tries to be unobtrusive but still disconcerting. The acting is also superb, with the two detectives giving quiet performances even when they’re being obstructed by the antagonistic hospital manager.
Jessica Chastain hardly wears any make up here, unlike in her Oscar-winning performance as the heavily painted, flamboyant preacher’s wife in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”. We can understand her dilemma here because Charlie is so good to her and her daughters.
She even empathizes with him after learning he is separated from his wife who is trying to alienate his two kids from him. But then, upholding the truth gets the better of her and she cooperates with the cops to arrest him.
Redmayne is chilling as the warped mind who has no qualms about murdering innocent people. When asked about his motive why he kills them, he says: “Because they don’t stop me.” He’s referring to the hospital authorities who become his veritable co-conspirators because they chose to look the other way and simply letting him go, instead of having him arrested for his crimes.