TIFF 2022: The Good Nurse Review

A sterile and disappointing true crime story

Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain team up for the true-crime medical thriller The Good Nurse. Based on the true story of nurse Charlie Cullen who, over a 16-year career, confessed to murdering 29 people with a fatal cocktail of drugs he injected into IV bags at random, the film sees Chastain play the titular “good” nurse who helped identify the killer in director Tobias Lindholm’s movie.

Bouncing from hospital to hospital, Charlie (Redmayne), seems like a quiet and likeable guy. He’s kind of patient, appears to know what he’s doing, and is a long-distance dad missing his two kids. When he transfers to a new hospital to work the understaffed night shift alongside nurse Amy Loughren (Chastain), he seems like the perfect colleague and friend.

After a series of rare deaths in the hospital, however, Amy begins to feel something is amiss with her new colleague, who has already ingratiated himself into her life as a single mom. When a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the family of a patient, Amy begins her own investigation into Charlie. Discovering he’s been passed from hospital to hospital, Amy uncovers a string of corruption that allowed the medical community to simply push him out and make him the next institution’s problem. The most chilling of all is Charlie’s lack of motive or reasoning — he simply does it because he can.

If viewers are not aware of the true story, the plot of The Good Nurse bears many similarities to the recent TV series “Dr. Death.” Another ripped-from-the-headlines true story starring Joshua Jackson, Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater, “Dr. Death” also sees working doctors uncover layers of hospital corruption and negligence in the name of ineptness and legal avoidance. Perhaps its familiarity is why The Good Nurse fails to drum up any kind of tension, despite having Last Night In Soho scriptwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns on board.


Lindholm, who directed the films A Hijacking and A War, shows the restraint he did in those films here, but unfortunately, it feels a little too restrained. Underwhelming at best, The Good Nurse clearly does not want to capitalize on the more salacious elements of a procedural thriller, but by playing it at an even keel through each of Amy’s discoveries, the thin story rarely rises above a simmer.

Like the hospital setting, The Good Nurse feels and looks sterile. Chastain does what she can in the role, but Amy only ever really feels like she’s there to guide audiences through the facts of the story. Redmayne fares a little better here and it’s refreshing to see the actor get to show off a darker side than what we are accustomed to seeing on screen. Playing against type works for Redmayne, making it easy to see how his quiet demeanour let Cullen slip through the cracks for so long.

The real story of The Good Nurse seems much more thrilling on paper. Perhaps, this Netflix adaptation will encourage audiences to pick up a copy of Charles Graeber’s book “The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness and Murder” instead of watching this disappointing take which arrives on Netflix on October 26.


The Good Nurse screened as part of TIFF 2022, which runs from September 8 to 18. 

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