The Good Nurse
A Thrilling True Crime Story That Never Sensationalizes
Establishment and exhaustion are not usually a good mix. I don’t recommend it. Sadly, most establishments are by design not set up for everyone and as the world grows bigger and more and more people are unable to get what they need, exhaustion becomes a form of survivalism. If you have to live, you live in exhaustion. Of course, even the most exhausted is capable of providing enough kindness to make a difference.
Such is Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) a single mother to two daughters and nurse working in the intensive care unit at Parkfield Memorial Hospital in New Jersey who is suffering from cardiomyopathy, unbeknownst to anyone at the hospital for fear of dismissal. Due to having no health insurance, Amy has no choice but to remain working for another four months, in order to acquire the insurance to afford a heart transplant. The hospital recruits experienced nurse Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) to help her work night shifts and they quickly become good friends. Charlie discovers her condition and agrees to keep it a secret.
Elderly patient Ana Martinez dies suddenly and the hospital’s administrative board by health protocol has to contact the state police. The two assigned detectives (Nnamdi Asomugha and Noah Emmerich) sense something is off but Parkfield is determined to get the investigation over with. The detectives question Amy who notices that insulin had been administered to Martinez, demonstrated by her decreased C peptide levels, despite her being a non-diabetic. Another patient, Kelly Anderson dies in the night and Amy discovers that insulin had been administered to her the night before. With the board at Parkfield refusing to help them, the detectives have to work without them and eventually find out that Charlie had worked at nine hospitals. He’s been transferred constantly and patients have died with insulin in their system at every hospital. He’s been killing people without ever having to touch them.
They come to an already suspicious Amy and convince her to help them take him down. Amy risks her job, her health, and her life to put a stop to the unspeakable actions committed by someone she had trusted so much. Amy embraced Charlie and welcomed her into her family. Charlie enjoyed many family dinners and acted almost as a father figure to her girls. Chastain portrays Amy’s grief with the exact disappointment that comes from people you invest in not being who you thought they were. Redmayne transitions back and forth from the angel to the devil so frequently throughout The Good Nurse and morphs into one fully deranged human by the film’s thrilling final act.
Whether it’s their character’s portrayal of loneliness, laughter or sheer exhaustion, the chemistry between Chastain and Redmayne is undeniable. The supporting performances of the detectives in The Good Nurse are essential. Often, detective roles are ancillary but here they are rightfully portrayed as crucial.
The Good Nurse is an incredible film from start to finish and it will leave you wanting more. Audiences have always been drawn to true crime stories. The obsession with it is a phenomenon but The Good Nurse never feels sensationalized. It’s almost a ghost story because it chills you to the bone. One scene in particular really stands out. This is when Amy meets Charlie in a diner. She’s wearing a wire and attempts to get a confession out of him. She makes her suspicions clear, he starts talking about something completely different and she doesn’t back down. Their tones are always calm and the scene has no music. My heart races every time I watch. The good nurse in The Good Nurse of course is Amy. The Good Nurse is just as much a look at what people like her go through just as it is an attempt to put out fires that establishments like Parkfield left to burn for far too long.
All the characters in The Good Nurse are drowning in their own exhaustion. Some battle through it, while others remain lazy. The Good Nurse takes place in 2003 and this timetable makes it all the more heartbreaking. 20 years later, not much has changed. Oh, wait, it has. It’s just gotten worse. I could advise you to be wary of the “Charlie’s” of the world but I think we all know by now none of us ever really know anyone. We never really know who we’re dealing with. If you sense you are in the presence of the “Amy’s” of the world, don’t go too far. They are rare gifts who always rise up to do the right thing. The “Amy’s” will always be there when you need them. For that I am grateful!
Davis, C. (2022, September 11). Is netflix the good nurse based on a true story? 1428 Elm. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://1428elm.com/2022/09/11/netflix-the-good-nurse-based-true-story/