Based on a true story, The Good Nurse serves as an acting masterclass from two Oscar-winners in Jessica Chastain (It Chapter Two, The Eyes of Tammy Faye) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). While the film’s mystery elements work pretty well, the choreographing of each aspect is rather obvious from the get-go. That said, it does not lessen the overall impact, especially when it comes to Redmayne’s explosive performance in the final act.
Set at St. Aloysius Hospital in 1996 Pennsylvania, The Good Nurse follows compassionate and sweet single parent Amy (Chastain) as she navigates work in the ICU while hiding a dangerous medical condition. Desperately trying to hold out for another four months when she can finally be approved for medical coverage, Amy suffers from blood blisters on her heart that could put her in serious danger of having a stroke. To help alleviate the thinly-spread perils of the night shift, new nurse Charlie (Redmayne) is brought on, highly recommended with stellar experience.
Amy and Charlie grow close very quickly. Both have young daughters, and he learns her secret during a breakdown. Promising not to reveal her condition to the hospital staff lest she be let go, Charlie seems to be a perfect guy, and a nurse who is nearly as passionate about his job as Amy. Charlie grows close to Amy’s family, bonding with her daughters in an unexpected way. However, things may not be as ideal as they first appear.
A patient turns up dead, immediately sparking an internal investigation. Was it a simple medicine flub, or something more sinister? A second patient passes away, and now it all seems too wild to be a simple coincidence. All signs point to Charlie’s involvement, but could he really be capable of such crimes? Amy has her own doubts, struggling to differentiate Charlie as a person from the impossibly awful deaths he may be responsible for. As detectives circle the truth, Amy finds herself slipping deeper into doubt and depression as her condition worsens.
Through the unraveling script, Chastain does a great job portraying Amy’s conflicted emotions. She clearly has a lot going on in her busy life, so watching Charlie like a hawk isn’t exactly high on her list of priorities. When can a potential truth become too difficult to ignore? The true story aspect kept me glued to the screen, even if the overall pacing certainly drags in places. I wanted the sole focus to be on Amy and Charlie, so each time we sidestep into the machinations of the detectives, The Good Nurse is nowhere near as enthralling.
Minor flaws aside, I have to say that I enjoyed the film overall. An afterward left me shocked and appalled that these horrors went on for as long as they did. For the performances alone, The Good Nurse is worth a watch, particularly for fans of either actor. While I do not foresee it receiving any acclaim or awards attention, it could be a perfect fit for Netflix, and its true crime sensibilities.
The Good Nurse debuted in select theatres on Wednesday, October 19th, and debuts to Netflix on October 26th.