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TIFF Film Review: ‘The Good Nurse’ Pairs Jessica Chastain with Eddie Redmayne for a Clinical Procedural

Netflix
Netflix

When you hear that a film is about the search for a very specific kind of serial killer, many an image is conjured up in your head. Well, at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Good Nurse is certainly not concerned with leaning into the baser aspects of this story. The movie is cold, clinical, and largely observational, though certainly plenty entertaining, leaning into its procedural elements as much as anything. As one of Netflix’s more high profile titles debuting here at TIFF, it presents a very mainstream story in a slightly different way than you might be anticipating. Make of that what you will.

The Good Nurse comes close to being a filmed version of a trashy beach read, but it always manages to pull back in time. Now, some might prefer that approach to this one, but this is hardly Gone Girl. Instead, it resembles closer to the work that this filmmaker has done in the past. So, set your expectations accordingly.

Based on a true story, Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) is a nurse and single mother, one in need of a heart procedure. So, her life is hardly easy. Initially, new co-worker Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) is a welcome presence at the hospital, as well as a friend. Then, one night, a patient dies mysteriously, with an elevated amount of Insulin in their system. On its own, this wouldn’t be a huge anomaly, but as we’re soon to learn, this is a common occurrence at hospitals where Charlie has worked at. Is it a coincidence or a cover up? Moreover, can anyone do anything about it?

As these deaths are investigated by detectives Danny Baldwin (Nnamdi Asomugha) and Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich), Amy becomes more and more suspicious of Charlie. Especially as the cops are stonewalled by hospital administrators, it seems up to Amy to help. If they can’t prove that Charlie is responsible and nail him, this will go on forever, with an untold number of deaths potentially looming in the future.

Netflix

Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne are the clear highlights of The Good Nurse. They’re able to do a lot with their eyes here, watching patients, certain events, and even each other. Chastain wears exhaustion like a suit of armor, while Redmayne has a boy-ish bit of awkwardness that both creeps and disarms in equal measure. Both Nnamdi Asomugha and Noah Emmerich are rock solid in roles that don’t ask a ton of them. The rest of the cast includes Kim Dickens, among others, though Chastain and Redmayne are what sells the flick.

Director Tobias Lindholm and writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns keep things simple here. Lindholm and Wilson-Cairns show a ton of restraint, almost to the point of preventing you from fully investing in the story. Chastain’s everywoman is compelling and Redmayne’s possible serial killer is chilling in his simple creepiness, but plenty here screams for heightening things. That’s not the goal here in The Good Nurse. It’s never subdued, but cold and clinical is not an unfair way to describe the events depicted in the story.

The Good Nurse isn’t going to blow you away, but anyone looking for a pulpy serial killer procedural will find plenty to enjoy with this one. Awards prospects may be limited to just Chastain and Redmayne, but it did play like gangbusters to the premiere crowd here at TIFF, so anything is possible. At the bare minimum, Netflix will see this one play to its subscribers in a big way, eager to watch movie stars in a creepy true story. Even if that’s all this ends up being, that’s still nothing to discount, in the slightest.

SCORE: ★★★

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Written by Joey Magidson

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