Despite the misleading title, Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne’s new Netflix movie isn’t a romantic comedy that will appeal to a wide audience; instead, it’s a condensed thriller that crosses over into a number of other genres.
The Good Nurse, a dramatic thriller from Netflix, is an unusually taut film that is best appreciated with as little background knowledge as possible. It contains social commentary that is specifically directed at the people who thanked healthcare providers by banging “thaalis” in their honour on janta curfew day.
Director Tobias Lindholm, who is making his English-language debut after three superb Danish dramas, finds nuanced ways to present a fairly well-known story with Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne sharing the lead roles. Both actors give performances deserving of Oscar nominations. The Good Nurse not only offers a more sophisticated interpretation of the police procedural subgenre but also handles the chilling true-crime story at its core with amazing calm.
Although “fun” is scarcely an adequate term to characterise the type of injustice that it dourly dramatises, part of the enjoyment of watching the film is speculating as to how Linholm and author Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917, Last Night in Soho) will next challenge narrative conventions.
The Good Nurse begins acting like a character study for about an hour before changing into something completely different—yet still interesting—around the midway point.Amy, the busy nurse played by Chastain, learns early on in the movie that she has a significant heart ailment that requires quick attention. But Amy lacks the essential insurance to pay for her care, just like countless millions of Americans. She receives a bill for over $1000 for the consultation just moments after a doctor tells her that she must somehow survive until she can get on the transplant list.
The good nurse functions like high brow genre films
The Good Nurse functions like one of those high-brow genre films about the white American working class in these scenes, similar to Out of the Furnace or The Place Beyond the Pines. Because of Amy’s obvious commitment to assisting others, the film’s outrage at her predicament and, by extension, the American healthcare system, is extremely serious. But when Charles Cullen, played by Redmayne, arrives as the hospital’s new night shift nurse, many of her problems disappear (is there another kind of Redmayne character? ). Early on, he becomes aware of her disease and offers to assist in providing care for her so she can buy some time before becoming insurable.
The closeness they develop over their countless tense nights in the ICU is real
The bond that grows between them over their numerous difficult nights in the ICU is genuine, and it seems that the immediate objective of the film is to get Amy out of harm’s way. However, everything is thrown on its head when two detectives are requested by the hospital to participate in an internal investigation into the mysterious death of an elderly patient. When a second patient, this one much younger, dies in a similar manner, the detectives begin to question if something sinister is happening.
The fact that the direction is so subtle helps. The Good Nurse doesn’t include any of the boisterous, scenery-chewing performances that one would typically associate with Oscar-bait like this, with the exception of a few scenes, one of which you will immediately recognise because it stars Redmayne. Although it’s true that the movie gives both Chastain and Redmayne TikTok-friendly footage in case they’re nominated, their performances are surprisingly restrained overall. This movie has ice in its veins until it doesn’t.
The idea of spoilers and the unfair act of releasing them would seem to only apply to movies in the superhero genre. But the importance of watching The Good Nurse without first watching the trailers and other promotional content cannot be overstated.