Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Good Nurse

Movie Name:
The Good Nurse
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Tobias Lindholm
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne, Nnamdi Asomugha, Noah Emmerich, Kim Dickens, David Lavine, Ajay Naidu, Alix West Lefler, Devyn McDowell, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Maurice J. Irvin, Shaun O'Hagan, Gabe Fazio, Maria Dizzia, Bruce MacVittie
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Netflix

Synopsis and Review
Another release hailing from Netflix, this time around from director Tobias Lindholm, who has made a name for himself both as writer, by having co-written the script for Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt", as a director with the well received "A Highjacking" and "A War" (he also directed a few episodes of the David Fincher led "Mindhunter" in the interim). "The Good Nurse", which is based on the book by Charles Graeber, traces some of the real life events of Charlie Cullen, a currently incarcerated serial killer who has been convicted of killing at least 29 people, and is serving 17 consecutive life sentences in prison. The film opts to focus its attention on Amy Loughren, a single mother and nurse, who works in the ICU at Parkfield Memorial Hospital in New Jersey. She works long hours to make ends meet, and she herself has a critical medical issue. She has told no one at the hospital this situation since she fears dismissal. On top of this she also has to continue working long hours for additional time until she becomes eligible for health insurance (her medical visits themselves are enormously expensive). Some help comes in the shape of Charlie Cullen, an experienced nurse, who quickly befriends Amy, helping with her some tasks in the hospital and even with her own children at home. However soon after he joins the hospital, two patients unexpectedly pass away. Both of whom were being tended to by Amy and also Charlie. A police investigation starts as to what exactly happened with one of those patients, but due to the lack of cooperation from the Hospital's Administrative Board and the fact that the patient's body has already been cremated, there isn't much they can do. However with the most recent deceased patient they can perform an autopsy and gather more information. As the information gathered accumulates, the suspicions towards Charlie increase, as they realize this pattern has been repeated before.
"The Good Nurse" is a film whose narrative deftly moves forward and quickly establishes its main characters. One of its issues though lies with the fact that it tries to be a social agenda type of film, emphasizing the tremendous cost of healthcare in the US, and how even a working parent can't make ends meet, married with the somewhat shady dealings from these Hospitals' Administrative Boards. On top of these two socially driven topics it then also ties them with a thriller of sorts, where the question is raised if indeed this nurse has been consistently killing patients from institution to institution. All these threads don't get equal attention and time, and they eventually contribute to the fact that the narrative feels somewhat stunted. Which is to say, Amy's life is briefly given some insight, just enough to understand her challenges, though we never really know how she got there and why is it that she doesn't have more support. The same going for Charlie, whom we barely know much about, aside from the fact that he has some issues with an ex-wife and visiting rights with his children. The police investigation is also not given much room to actually be more than an episode that illustrates the obstacles brought forth by the Hospital Administration. It's ultimately a surprisingly shallow script, and one that is not entirely sensical (according to the narrative, if Amy was indeed such good friends with Charlie, why wouldn't she come to him first as opposed to what the film illustrates), and eventually one that doesn't fulfill the whole aspect of giving some dimension as to what drove Charlie or even what he got out of his relationship with Amy. While the director manages to create a strong sense of pacing and style, the narrative itself unfortunately just doesn't match his storytelling abilities. What is left is indeed the strong performance from Jessica Chastain who is back to her solid work (hopefully she has moved past Oscar bait material), with good support from Eddie Redmayne and Kim Dickens. The cinematography from Jody Lee Lipes is solid as is the score from Biosphere. Watchable but forgettable.