THE GOOD NURSE: 3 STARS. “a thriller without many thrills.”
“The Good Nurse,” a new Netflix psychological thriller starring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne, is both a condemnation of the American health care system and a pulpy warning that looks can be deceiving.
At home Amy (Chastain) is an attentive single mother of two. At work she is a kind and compassionate New Jersey night shift nurse, the kind of health worker who goes above and beyond for her patients. New to the job, she is still on probation, working toward full time status and, most importantly, health insurance. Amy suffers from Cardiomyopathy, a cardiovascular disease characterized by blood blisters on her heart. She should take time off from work, but can’t because she has no insurance. “We need to keep your heart going long enough to get you on the transplant list,” says her doctor.
Enter new night nurse Charlie Cullen (Redmayne). As a co-worker, he is compassionate and knowledgeable. As a friend he steps up to help her through the health crisis and look after her two daughters. He’s almost too good to be tue.
“I can help you,” he says to her as he feeds her pills pilfered from the hospital’s store room. “You’re going to be OK.”
But when people start mysteriously dying at the ICU, was it all just a deadly coincidence or could he be responsible? Is this friendly, helpful nurse an angel of compassion or an angel of death? Police officers Danny Baldwin (Nnamdi Asomugha) and Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) lean to the latter and want Amy to help prove their case. “He’s been at nine hospitals and no one will talk to us,” says Baldwin of Charlie’s checkered professional past.
The based-on-a-true-story of one of the most prolific serial killers ever, “The Good Nurse” is a thriller without many thrills. It’s no surprise who the killer is.
What is surprising, and effectively portrayed, is the other stuff, the way the hospital attempts to control the investigation, the stonewalling and outright cover-up. As on the recent “Doctor Death” series, it reveals the extraordinary lengths hospitals will go to limit their liability in wrongful death cases. That’s where the shocks are; that’s the stuff that leaves a mark.
The rest of the story is carried by the leads, Chastain and Redmayne, who both hand in minor chord, restrained performances that ooze compassion, until they don’t. The change in Redmayne is chilling as he lets his true colors show.
“The Good Nurse” isn’t edge of your seat stuff, but it does something most true crime dramas don.t. It emphasized the characters and the procedural over the sensational details of the Cullen’s crime spree.