The Good Nurse (2022) Movie Review – Strong performances carry a simple yet unsettling premise

Strong performances carry a simple yet unsettling premise

The Good Nurse is a semi-autobiographical crime thriller available on Netflix, based on Charles Graeber’s 2013 book of the same name. The crime drama tells the tale of healthcare ignorance, insanity, and murders.

The plot revolves around Amy, a sympathetic but overworked nurse who does not lead an easy life. In addition to being a single mother and having a fatal heart ailment, her night hours at the hospital push her to the brink on both an emotional and physical level. The assistance of Charlie Cullen, a colleague turned friend, fortunately makes things better for her.

Amy and Charlie grow close with time, and a rare glimmer of hope comes when she feels reassured about the future. However, she must use every resource at her disposal to uncover the truth when he is labeled as a key suspect in a string of ambiguous patient deaths.

The title of any movie is essential, but “The Good Nurse”, which is rooted in the horrifying serial killings of several patients by a not-so-good nurse who inserted lethal poisons into IV bags, has a profound meaning. The “good nurse” in the movie’s title is definitely not Charles Cullen, not even in an ironic sense as he is a legitimate serial killer who was convicted of numerous murders and was arguably among the most prolific murderers of all time.

Instead, Jessica Chastain, who plays his colleague Amy Loughren is the good nurse as she initially embraced Cullen as her friend, later suspected him, and ultimately assisted the authorities by helping them take him down.

By focusing on serial killer Charles Cullen, the semi-autobiographical thriller could have easily become another horrifying true-crime thriller, but instead, it chooses a completely different approach to convey its compelling case.

Due to the approach adopted, this storyline is intriguing and unique. Even when we get a glimpse of the victims and their lives, the people who bring their crimes to light, the primary focus is usually on the serial killer, and the other individuals involved usually only serve as a part of a minor inclusion since the main plot almost always revolves around the killer. By employing this approach, the film also helps us see how, on occasion, the true heroes who are responsible for uncovering the serial killers are eclipsed by the killer himself, which is a sobering realization.

Cullen, who is presently serving numerous life sentences, has still not revealed his motivations, and perhaps even the director of the harrowing feel-bad thriller isn’t concerned about making an educated guess. Eddie Redmayne’s character Cullen attempts to explain himself, but Lindholm drowns him out with the sound of a police siren and lamenting melodies.

Lindholm as well as the other writer, Krysty Wilson-Cairns, sought to address pressing issues which include: How could Cullen get away with the murders for 16 years while operating at nine different healthcare facilities? Were his organizations short on staff and assets to detect? Did they become so frightened of legal action that they moved Cullen out of their community without a negative letter of recommendation, much less  a call to the authorities?

The clear villain in this situation is the professional who murders patients, but the structure at the hospital that allows this evil to thrive places reputation and profit over morality. Both of these are alarming and frightening.

A plotline wherein two investigators are hindered by the hospital officials that minimize deaths as “unexplainable events”, as per the opinion of a disturbingly calm risk manager, has a hint of Gogol-esque satire. Cullen is really a byproduct of organizational cancer, according to the movie’s perspective.

This thriller is somber and menacing; it begins slowly and escalates dramatically. Additionally, the movie has the advantage of being exceptionally well-crafted, with excellent pacing and lots of silent tension. This crime drama isn’t really graphic or even particularly violent considering it’s based on a serial killer.

Cullen is portrayed by Redmayne as being so bland that he could blend into the backdrop. He even dons a grey cardigan, clearly taking into account the book’s descriptions, especially the one in which the author describes the serial killer as “a sad Mr. Rogers type”. He is a genuine riddle since he lacks an identifiable persona.

Even though Redmayne showcases the ruthlessness you anticipate during the sparse death scenes, in between sequences the movie shows Charlie being warm and compassionate towards Amy establishing the tragedy of this storyline as the opening scenes involving him and Chastain nearly make you overlook who he truly is.

Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha, the two investigators assigned to the matter, are also noteworthy since they come across as extremely real and unique as compared to other movie cops.

The Good Nurse is a strong crime drama that excels, yet it falls short as a crime thriller. The narrative does very little to analyze the mind of the serial murderer outside of exploring Amy’s background and perspective.

We are aware that the movie focuses primarily on the “Good nurse,” but it would have been great to have had some background information on the murderer. Regrettably, we are not even given an informed guess regarding the whys and hows.

Although we are aware that the movie is based on a serial killer, after watching the trailer, one can’t help but think that they reveal far too much in it. Despite that, The Good Nurse is a solid movie and certainly worth a watch.


Read More: The Good Nurse Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 8/10

2 thoughts on “The Good Nurse (2022) Movie Review – Strong performances carry a simple yet unsettling premise”

  1. Hi,

    You’ve named the wrong Black actor in this article. The actors playing the two investigators assigned to the case are Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha, not Malik Yoba, who plays a colleague in the police department.

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