REVIEW: “the good nurse” is netflix’s latest true-crime hit

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Lydia Sommer

“The Good Nurse” is currently streaming on Netflix and its true-crime story has caused it to gain popularity.

Lydia Sommer, PV Only Editor

Dramatizing a true story, “The Good Nurse” is a shocking, soul-dropping and slow-burn movie.

*This article contains spoilers for the movie, “The Good Nurse.”

The plot follows two nurses: Amy Loughren played by Jessica Chastain and Charlie Cullen played by Eddie Redmayne. Cullen is a new nurse at a New Jersey hospital after transferring through eight hospitals. He now works where Nurse Loughren works. After the strange and sudden death of a patient at the hospital, the two nurses’ bond grows into a special friendship. Loughren entrusts Cullen with her children and secret illness, strengthening their bond further. 

However, Loughren’s world is shaken after police become involved in her workplace after the death of another patient, suspicious of  Cullen’s involvement. Later discovered, Cullen was responsible for the murder of both those patients and many others.

The storyline has a nail-biting and high-tension atmosphere. Even from the beginning, the stillness of the hospital created a queasy feeling. The opening shots used wide panning, emphasizing the emptiness of hospitals and mirroring an individual’s hollowness. The single shots of patients in their beds and nurses working at their stations added to the loneliness.

With these cinematography shots, sound was emphasized. As Nurse Loughren and Nurse Cullen worked, the sound of pills shaking in their bottles, machines beeping and patients struggling to breath were startlingly loud. This added to the experience of being in a hospital, immersing the viewer into Parkfield Memorial Hospital, as if they, too, were working there.

Along with the cinematography and sound, there was a constant gray, blue and green hue to the film. From the scrubs to the pill bottles to the sky outside, “The Good Nurse” intensified the feelings of desolation, regret and helplessness through its dull color scheme.

The gloomy atmosphere and slow shots created a slow-burn movie. Despite the deranged story with murders and police investigations, the movie moved quite slowly. However, the plot was constantly developing, and the characters were captivating. The viewers understood who the killer was in the first half of the movie, yet it was revealed until the end. 

As for the characters themselves, both Chastain and Redmayne portrayed them perfectly. 

Chastain depicted Nurse Loughren as compassionate and fierce. Nurse Loughren was a single mother, and had a challenging life. Even after being diagnosed with a cardiac condition, she refused to let that stop her from working. On top of that, she went behind Nurse Cullen’s back to investigate him. Yet, she had compassion for both her patients and Nurse Cullen. Chastain showed authenticity and emotion through the calm words she spoke to a serial killer.

As for Redmayne, his portrayal of Charlie Cullen was simple and controlling. Redmayne accurately represented Cullen: a nurse who was hiding his serial killer instincts behind a softhearted facade. Once the audience knew the violence and pain Cullen could inflict, it was challenging to continue watching him treat patients. Opposite of recent thriller-crime movies, like Dahmer, “The Good Nurse” avoids the glamorized depiction of the killer. 

Portrayals of the characters and their problems shine light on real-life issues in the U.S. healthcare and justice systems. Charlie Cullen managed to get away with many murders throughout nine different hospitals. In the movie, as police were investigating, the previous hospitals refused to speak about Cullen. It showed the skewed mindset of these hospitals; they prioritized profit over the safety of patients and bad press surrounding their hospital. While the hospitals were suspicious of Cullen, their money mindset forced them to relocate a murderer rather than pin him down.

At the end of the movie the movie stated that, after he had been caught, Charlie Cullen admitted to having murdered 29 people. Astonishingly, the real number of victims may have been up to 400. This truth left the viewer shocked that such an atrocity could slip through their healthcare systems.