Amy (Jessica Chastain) shows us that it’s not easy being the titular good nurse in Tobias Lindholm’s new film. After flipping over a patient so that the latter doesn’t get bed sores, probably, she has trouble catching her breath. She has cardiomyopathy, which would require anyone to take medical leave. But since 2000s America is experiencing late stage capitalism, she can’t take medical leave because that means not being able to pay for babysitters and food. This is difficult enough for a single mom of two kids. And more difficult since she needs to work four more months to qualify for health insurance in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as it seems.
Lindholm, in recreating real life events, introduces a coworker to help Amy out, Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), who’s ingratiated himself enough into Amy’s life that he babysits for her kids. Thing is, one of the patients they care for dies, which, as protocol, the hospital’s risk officer (Kim Dickens) reluctantly asks two cops (Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha) to help her out. Those cops have a supervisor (Malik Yoba) keeping them in check as the case gets to their emotions. Meanwhile, it’s business as usual at the hospital. Lindholm, to his credit, makes his viewers pay attention to the patients and their next of kin because those next of kin will experience their love ones die under the hospital’s care. All signs point to Charlie.
The camera here occasionally leers. I also keep in mind that the story here has a real life basis. But some scenes have Amy making erratic decisions, even if those decisions have arguments for or against them. I’ve probably written elsewhere that I like to re-watch films as part of the review process. And those repeat viewings surprisingly make the film come off more subtly than its first impression. That subtlety comes with one of Amy’s saner decisions. One where she, despite her hospital’s crappy confidentiality clause, works with the police to piece together a proper case against Charlie. Those scenes involve dialogue that the cast handle well. Although yes, it’s funny to me that Chastain is still making a career out of being a cop, as much as being a cop is good thing in this film.
There’s also something missing with this set of characters. This is a film choosing a hospital as its setting, and I repeat that with emphasis just because of the lack of my fellow Asians here. This is Chastain’s movie but the most interesting performance here is from Redmayne. His accent work is amazing but he sometimes leans into the screenplay’s occasionally campy aspects. And there’s a scene at the end that almost ruins what is comparably subtle work. It’s a miracle that The Good Nurse survives all of this. But that’s mostly due to Lindholm and his DP Jody Lee Lipes matching the film’s tone with a neo-Baroque aesthetic.
The Good Nurse is playing in some theatre in Guelph. It will also stream on Netflix on October 28.
- Release Date: 10/22/2022