The Good Nurse, a true story based on one of America’s most notorious angel of death

22 April 2023 / by Jordyn Lalonde
The Good Nurse, a true story based on one of America’s most notorious angel of death
The film depicts a seemingly good nurse who is not as friendly as he appears.

The Good Nurse lures the audience with its incredible cinematography, great acting and captivating storyline that keeps them on the edge of their seats. The film is directed by Tobias Lindholm and includes the eerie true story of a nurse who is supposed to protect and help their patients but is their cause of death instead. The movie stars Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne, Nnamdi Asomugha, Noah Emmerich, and Kim Dickens. It premiered at TIFF on September 11th, 2022. 

The Good Nurse occurs in New Jersey at the fictional Parkfield Memorial Hospital. The film begins with Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) calling for help as one of his patients is dying; where we see the other medical professionals working fast to help the patient while Charles stands back and watches. Then, we get introduced to Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain), a nurse at a separate hospital, Parkfield Memorial, who is told a new nurse with good recommendations is transferring to theirs to help lessen the load on other nurses. Charles transfers to Parkfield and becomes good friends with Amy, and begins to take over taking care of some of her previous patients to lessen the load. One of the patients he starts caring for dies abruptly the next day. Charles tells Amy that his mother had died in the hospital and her body was poorly taken care of, which caused a lot of pain on him. Seven weeks later two detectives Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) and Danny Baldwin (Nnamdi Asomugha) show up to a meeting with the head of the health board, Linda Garran (Kim Dickens), and other members in which they discuss how the deceased woman’s death was suspicious and begin to do an internal investigation on the cause. 

While this is going on, Charles discovers that Amy has blood blisters on her heart and requires a transplant but can’t put in paid work leave until being there for one year, and has four months left until that point. She’s also a struggling single mother with two girls, in which she bonds with Charles as he also has two girls and is divorced from his wife. Charles offers to help her around the workplace and at her house. Two more patients die even though they were seemingly well beforehand, which again strikes suspicion. Amy learns that Charles steals medication from the hospital, as he provides her with it to help with her heart condition. 

Whenever the detectives attempted to contact hospitals that employed Charlie, they always refused to disclose any information about him. Tim and Danny then reach out to Amy to try and get her help, as she had told them insulin had been in the patients, which would have caused their deaths, and she is friends with Charles, so she could try to get more information out of him. Charlie gets fired by Linda for providing false dates on his resume; he then appears at Amy’s house unannounced, which scares Amy as she believes he is the killer of the patients. Finally, the detectives get Charles in custody before he can start his job at another hospital. Amy gets him to confess to the murders of multiple patients. The film contains themes of medicine, friendship, justice, murder, and crime. 

The Good Nurse was really well done for a recreation of an actual event which occurred, which can be hard to come by sometimes as it can be challenging to recreate true stories. The cinematography was very clean-cut with the scenes and the focal points on the actors, displaying their intense emotions to reel the audience into the settings. The grey and brown dullness in the scenes really alluded to the gloomy indications surrounding the film’s premise. The acting was great as it felt very realistic, especially Redmayne and Chastain’s characterization of nurses, particularly shown through their intense emotions of exhaustion, relief and anxiety. The characters made me feel anxious, especially Charles, as I was worried about what he would do next and how that would affect the other characters. I also felt terrible for Amy as she had unfortunately and unknowingly befriended one of the worst serial killers and was struggling to get the truth out of him to protect her family and other future patients. The film personally provided further insight into the life of a nurse and the strenuous tasks they have to go through, as well as the exemplification of the shadiness of businesses as they try to cover up flaws within their system. The only constraints I noticed within the film were some fabrications with the details. They had altered specific facts between the real story and this recreation, such as the names of hospitals, patients and Amy’s heart condition details. Although the patient and hospital information makes sense to not disclose to the public for privacy concerns and other altered factors to the film are normal, as it can be hard to capture what the filmmakers want to convey to the audience without removing or rearranging information to draw further attention.

The Good Nurse aims to provide further context on the real-life situation to bring light to a horrifying and teachable experience for hospitals and medical workers to acknowledge. 

The Good Nurse was released on September 11th, 2022 and is available to watch on Netflix.