Jessica Chastain is coming off a Best Actress win for her role as Tammy Faye Baker at the Academy Awards last March. So all eyes are going to be on her for what roles she chooses or has come up with since then. Eddie Redmayne is another Oscar winner, for The Theory of Everything where he played Stephen Hawking, so this combination of Academy Award winners is quite the prolific pair to be starring in The Good Nurse. A new Netflix film based on a true story.
Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) is a single mother with two rambunctious kids. She is a full-time nurse working in a hospital in New Jersey. While working one night she gets a new shift mate Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) He helps her get through long nights and becomes more of a friend and father figure to her kids. Little does she know he is doing some unscrupulous work at the hospital that causes the deaths of some patients.
There have been a lot of television shows about hospitals and not as many films about them. With this being a true story it is a movie that is sure to hit an emotional chord with hospital workers and audiences that may have had a bad experience at a hospital. With less time to tell its story, the film has to get right into it. It doesn’t have a lot of time to develop its characters but does just enough to show Chastain’s struggle taking care of herself and her kids. How Redmayne’s character steps in makes sense. His character is left a little underdeveloped for a reason. He needed to be a closed book so what he was doing didn’t get exposed too soon.
The filmmaker Tobias Lindholm didn’t have a lot to work with regarding the script by Krysty Wilson Cairns. There wasn’t a lot of meat on the bone with this story. It was pretty straightforward for him and he got the most out of his two stars as well as the rest of the cast. Kim Dickens plays a hospital executive who has some of her own ideas about what’s going on and she keeps her opinions on this to herself. Two detectives, Danny Baldwin and Tim Braun (Nnamdi Asomugha and Noah Emmerich) who are investigating the deaths are very good in these roles. They bring a quiet intensity to their roles. They are very good at picking the bear in the right places.
I can see how this film could rub some people the wrong way. It’s not for the fainthearted. This subject matter is something that is a concern these days with hospital workers being under so much pressure, especially during the covid-19 pandemic. This film does a good job of putting the viewer in the shoes of the actors and putting them into the mindset of how these people look at all of this wrongdoing. It could definitely hit home for some who have had bad dealings like this with hospitals and medical facilities. Money can play into the decisions people make regarding patients and so forth. This world has become a dicey industry and it’s not always about the person who is sick and dying.
Tobias Lindholm takes a risk on the material. He goes to work with a good cast which helps him take a subpar script and elevate it to a higher level. This cast is led by two Academy Award winners and they anchor a difficult story. The meat and potatoes of the story is the investigative work by the detectives and that is what drew me to the film besides Chastain and Redmayne. I can see how this story is a bit too close to home for some but these stories of malfeasance and illegal activity by medical employees should be told so they don’t happen again. This story needed to be told and the filmmaker made good decisions with the film from the cast and plot/story perspective.
3 ½ stars
Dan Skip Allen