Review: The Good Nurse

I’m a crime guy. Love a good crime thriller. Whether it’s a series, film, documentary, I can get behind just about any type of crime thriller. So The Good Nurse has been on the to-do list for the wife and I for a few weeks now. We made a whole production of it. She made us some margaritas, I constructed my finest Nacho Mountain work to date, we turned off all the lights and were ready for some Friday night spooks. And the end result was…fine.

The film stars a pair of Academy Award winners working the graveyard shift at a New Jersey hospital in 2003. Amy (Jessica Chastain) is a caring and effective nurse, some might even call her a good nurse, who takes Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) under her wing as the new guy on the floor. They quickly develop a friendship that goes beyond work but questions about Charlie’s background arise following a series of unexpected deaths among their patients. The cast also includes veteran character actors Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, Deadwood) and Noah Emmerich (The Americans, Miracle) along with former All-Pro cornerback turned Emmy-nominated actor Nnamdi Asomugha.

At two hours in length, this is a slow burner that never quite explodes like many others in the genre. Part of that is likely done to go along with Charlie’s calm and friendly exterior. By the time things get moving in the final act the payoff isn’t quite worth the journey that led up to it. That’s not to say it’s a bad film by any means. Redmayne steals the show, particularly with two haunting words that are undoubtedly the highlight of the film, and Chastain delivers as usual though coming off her big Oscar win last year this isn’t her best work by any means. The two have a great chemistry and we see the arc in their friendship rise and fall without ever feeling to melodramatic or extreme.

The craziest part of this film is that its actually based on a true story. I had never heard of Charles Cullen prior to this but it’s one hell of a rabbit hole if you want to look him up. In addition to telling the story of Amy and Charlie’s relationship the film also highlights the shady business administration side of the private health care industry. Emmerich and Asomugha play a pair of detectives investigating a mysterious death of a patient and seeing how uncooperative the health care system as a whole can be was really eye-opening and just as disturbing as some of the things Cullen was doing. If you want to learn more about Cullen and the systemic oppression that let to what happened check out Capturing the Killer Nurse on Netflix, it’s a documentary released alongside The Good Nurse.

Don’t expect this film to contend for any awards this year. Maybe Redmayne slips in to the conversation for Supporting Actor but I highly doubt it. Sidebar about Redmayne, he’s starting to feel like a poor man’s Gary Oldman. He’s transformative in so many of his roles, particularly look at his work in The Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl. Even though he looks fairly normal in this film he’s able to completely transform into Cullen and seeing his descent by the end of the film was a great reminder of what makes this guy so good.

Overall I’d say The Good Nurse is a perfectly fine film. As a crime thriller it doesn’t offer much that you haven’t seen before but the case is interesting enough to keep you engaged. Perhaps the scariest moment of the film doesn’t come until the epilogue and will likely send you down said rabbit hole I mentioned before. Thumbs up for the performances but the pacing can be a real slog at times.

The Good Nurse is available now on Netflix.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Comments (



%d bloggers like this: