Security. Safety. Healing. Most people trust the healthcare system to nurse them back to health from illness or injury. “The Good Nurse” offers a different lens, critiquing the healthcare system through the story of a convicted serial killer. Based on a true story, the plotline sheds light on the lack of attentive care in the modern healthcare system and how a cold-blooded murderer can use this to his advantage.
Following nurse Charlie Cullen, played by Eddie Redmayne, “The Good Nurse” is filled with tense, terrifying and drawn-out scenes that build Charlie’s character. When he starts his job, Charlie meets Amy Loughren, a nurse trying her best in the midst of an already failing and understaffed healthcare system. While at first he appears to be a stoic but trustworthy partner, Charlie’s presence begins to line up with an odd number of Amy’s patients’ deaths.
As police begin to investigate, they learn Charlie has a criminal record and a history of stays at a psychiatric hospital. Detectives Danny Balwin and Tim Braun immediately flag the case and begin to dig through clues. The pair is immediately met with challenges — the hospital will not allow employees to speak with the detectives without a hospital official present. In a stroke of luck, the detectives get a moment alone with Amy and discover a patient’s death was caused by a wrongful administration of insulin. While all signs begin to point to Charlie, Amy immediately goes to her comrade’s defense. That is, until another patient’s death — also due to insulin — occurs. Amy confides in an old coworker and discovers there was a long-standing rumor that Charlie had purposely been killing patients. As the signs become too obvious to ignore, Amy decides to come to the detectives’ aid.
The hospital fires Charlie due to false employment data as Amy helps the detectives recover old files of his wrongdoings. The police arrest him under the charge of murder and try to coax a confession out of him. As they run out of time to get the confession, Amy again comes to the police’s aid. In a climactic, hair-raising scene, she re-assumes the role of confidant for Charlie, apologizing for leaving him alone to deal with his situation. He states all he wanted to do was help, to which Amy responds that a list of his victims is what would help her. This finally draws out a confession, and Charlie is taken away in handcuffs.
Director Tobias Lindholm does an incredible job of storytelling which gives audiences a glimpse at the failures of the modern healthcare system. The small doses of suspense and the thrilling moments leave viewers wondering what comes next. Amy’s struggle and Charlie’s ability to take advantage of the system is heartbreaking to witness. The critical view of self-interested hospitals is all too real for comfort. The film is a perfect balance of fear and exposé.
“The Good Nurse” is an incredibly crafted film. While it may induce discomfort, the look at for-profit healthcare systems is a new type of horror — a horror that’s real. The anxiety-inducing scenes keep viewers on the edges of their seats, from Charlie’s introduction to his arrest.