Driven by incredible performances by Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain, The Good Nurse is one of those true crime movies that took me by surprise. I thought I knew all the famous serial killers but I guess I was wrong. Don’t worry, I won’t go into details and there won’t be any spoilers here. If you want to know more about the true story behind the movie, you can start with this article. But only after you’ve seen the movie. Although with the title The Good Nurse and the fact that this is a movie about a serial killer, I think you can already kind of guess what’s going to happen.
What I think you cannot guess are the scale, methods and other important questions. Questions that we still, to this day, don’t have answers to. So, to say that The Good Nurse is a thought-provoking movie would be an understatement. We will be following Amy Loughren, a single mother who works as a night nurse. Swamped with work she’s happy to see that the hospital hired a new night nurse. However, that will soon change. To make things feel even stranger, recently I watched a television miniseries Dr. Death about another serial killer who worked in a hospital, Dr, Christopher Duntsch.
Both of these stories are truly harrowing and reveal just how fucked healthcare is in America. And not just fucked up from one point of view but from almost all of them! I remember watching John Q, another movie set in a hospital a couple of decades ago, and thinking how is this real? How do people let this travesty of a system continue to exist? Well, the answer is simple, power and money, with an accent on the latter. I can only imagine how strange this story seemed to the Danish screenwriter and director Tobias Lindholm (Kapringen, Jagten).
Amy is a night nurse struggling to make ends meet after her divorce. She’s now a single mother of two with some pretty serious health issues. And the fact that her job is stressful and physically demanding only makes things that much worse. Luckily and despite the budget cuts, her boss informs her that she’ll be getting some help finally. The hospital hired Charlie Cullen, a highly respected male nurse to help out with the night shift. The two of them bond pretty much immediately, not knowing what lies ahead. And that ahead starts when two police detectives visit the hospital.
Although The Good Nurse features a classic serial killer movie structure, its approach differs from other, similar movies. It’s not flashy or sensationalist but more subdued and psychological. And a lot of the story focuses on the personal drama poor Amy is going through. This made it feel refreshing and not tacky. And just to be clear we will have the old-school police investigation story unfolding parallel with the happenings in the hospital and Amy’s home. You can clearly feel that uncomfortable European vibe, Lindholm successfully transplanted into this Netflix movie.
I know that the slower pacing and the setting might dissuade some of you from watching this movie but I urge you to still check it out. The Good Nurse is definitely worth watching if for nothing else than for Eddie Redmayne’s performance. He’s just so fucking versatile that he can be anybody despite his quite recognizable physical appearance. Apart from dependable Noah Emmerich, I also have to mention Nnamdi Asomugha, a former NFL player who was great as detective Baldwin and Kim Dickens whom you might remember from Fear The Walking Dead.
I always confuse her with Elisabeth Shue, the two of them really do look alike. I have to admit that Netflix has been on fire recently. All Quiet on the Western Front and this one are true masterpieces while The Gray Man, Day Shift, and The Adam Project are all quite watchable albeit forgettable movies. Finally, I would just like to add that I don’t like movies set in hospitals. I guess I’m just getting to that age when hospital means illness and death of those closest to you. And eventually, yourself.
And exactly this uncomfortable feeling within the first few minutes of The Good Nurse is what pushed me to watch. To somehow try to demystify it and accept it as a natural part of life. As something that just happens. I’ve been trying to do similar things with other, uncomfortable and awkward feelings. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but it’s sure better than just plain old resistance. To be annoyingly pretentious, what we resist, persists. And speaking of “good” hospital staff, you might want to also check out The Good Doctor starring Orlando Bloom.
Director: Tobias Lindholm
Writers: Charles Graeber, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jessica Chastain, Noah Emmerich, Nnamdi Asomugha, Kim Dickens
Fun Facts: The movie has been in development since 2016.