The Good Nurse accurately depicts a broken healthcare system, while not reaching its full potential due to a drag of an opening act.
The fascinating thing about The Good Nurse is that the film I walked in expecting to see and the one I saw were not the same. I was baffled that this ended up being about a tormented serial killer versus just about a nurse that may or may not have been good.
The film begins with us meeting Amy Loughren, a single parent of two struggling with everything that life throws her way, including a heart condition that could kill her. Like every hard-working person in this country, Amy needs health insurance, but she hasn’t been with her company a whole year, so she cannot receive any benefits. Because of this, Amy is forced to work long hours while sick and try to be a mom to her kids she barely gets to see.
Let’s stop right here for just a minute and take a moment to talk about our incredibly broken healthcare system in America. We have thousands of Amy’s (reminder this is based on a true story): single parents trying to make ends meet while raising their kids in this broken world. It’s literally impossible because our politicians fail us consistently. So many politicians are so “pro-life” when trying to control women’s bodies, but when the baby is born, they could not care less about them. Let’s be honest, they are more pro-control than pro-life.
Back to the movie, as we get our introduction to Charlie Cullen. Charlie is a bit of an oddball, but his charm and slight innocence make him likable. As his character grows, we become even keener on as he is helping Amy out with life, making sure she doesn’t pass out at her job so they don’t find out she has a heart condition, and helping with her kids. However, there is a particular part in the film where we start to see the real Charlie emerge.
Academy Award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne plays Charlie, which might be one of the best, if not my favorite performance of his career. There was something about that switch flipping that saw Redmayne truly become this vile. There is one scene where they asked him why he did it, and his response in a bone-chilling tone was, “They didn’t stop me.”
See, this is where I pause the review one more time to talk about how the hierarchy never wants to take the fall, so they push it off to someone else to deal with. In this case, the hierarchy is the hospitals, lawyers, and prosecutors that failed the men and women who died at the hands of Charlie Cullen. Cullen is on record of killing over forty people (yes, FORTY) over a fifteen-year time across many hospitals. Yet, instead of stopping the man, they protected themselves, cut ties and let him go time and time again. And what a surprise – not one hospital or person involved with covering it up ever faced any consequences.
Back to the movie, fresh off her Academy Award win this year, Jessica Chastain gives another heartfelt, gut-wrenching performance in the role of Amy. I didn’t always love the direction in which her character was shifted throughout the film, but Chastain made you care about Amy in a way that made you cling to every word, including that final scene which was some of the best acting work I’ve seen this year.
Another part of this film that shouldn’t go unnoticed was Biosphere’s haunting score which elevated so many moments of this film and which I don’t think should be slept on during the award season. Several times I found myself clinging to my seat in anticipation within the heightened moments due to the score.
Sadly, the movie does come with a huge flaw, and that was the structure of the film led to the movie feeling longer than its actual run time. I also think certain moments came off more like a true crime series than a dramatic movie. Because of this, I can see people easily disconnecting from the film.
Overall, The Good Nurse is a good, maybe even great, film that, albeit a bit slow, has a strong message that comes across loud and clear. The message tossed in with two incredible performances never took me entirely out of the film.
Should be Considered: Best Original Score, Best Lead Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Lead Actor (Eddie Redmayne)
Release Date: In Select Theaters now; On Netflix October 26, 2022
Where to Watch: In Select Theaters; Netflix
Lives in Nashville
Favorite Director: Damien Chazelle