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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

The Good Nurse: Review


Dedicated nurse Amy Loughren serves as an empathetic light to her slew of patients. The arrival of a new nurse, Charles Cullen, brings some much-needed support to Amy's personal and work life as she manages a potentially fatal heart condition. When a series of patients die under mysterious circumstances, Amy finds herself face-to-face with an uncomfortable truth about Charles in The Good Nurse.


Based on a shocking true story of murder and medical malpractice, The Good Nurse possesses a narrative thread that is almost too compelling to ignore. The final product offers an effective, albeit simplistic, thriller that unnerves and underwhelms in equal measure.


The creative team here deserves praise for approaching tricky subject matter with a thoughtful touch. Director Tobias Lindholm turns Netflix's typically sterile visual identity into an asset for his feature. The drained color pallet and patient framing choices work as potent tools to accent the inherent dread lurking behind each suspicious circumstance. In the wrong hands, The Good Nurse could have sensationalized its premise to tasteless oblivion, but Lindholm steers the narrative ship with proper tact. His directorial choices are most effective when meditating on the underlying human cost generated by Charles - and the callously corporatized medical executives - sinister actions.


In her adaption of Charles Graeber's hard-hitting novel, screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns thankfully pays some attention to the slew of medical facilities that let Charles remain unpunished for his actions. Viewing medical executives as part of soulless business entities focused on profits over patients is a thoughtful idea, although it's a concept that her screenplay places on the back burner. Instead, the film's second half dedicates itself entirely to the true-crime nature of the source material. While The Good Nurse produces a mildly engrossing exercise from its tense pursuits, the film ultimately reduces any profound reflections into far too streamlined sentiments.


Thankfully, the cast helps ease some of the narrative inconsistencies. Jessica Chastain taps into her naturalistic strengths in her depiction of Amy, imbuing impactful gravitas as a caring nurse thrust into an unprecedented position. Eddie Redmayne is often the subject of divisive reactions due to some of his animated acting choices, but the role of Charles fits his subdued skillset like a glove. There's a quiet menace in his character's controlling nature that percolates throughout, even if the film can't help but include one moment of showy over-dramatization (there's a scene that's destined to become meme fodder). Nnamdi Asomugha and Noah Emmerich also elevate their standard-issue roles as detectives following Charles' trail.


The Good Nurse likely won't leave a lasting impact due to its straightforward approach. Still, the film offers a sufficient balance of thrills and dramatic weight for viewers searching for an alarming true story.


The Good Nurse is now playing on Netflix.

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