‘The Good Nurse’ Review: Bad Medicine

Oct 27, 2022 · 45 comments
melinda simmons (winston-salem, nc)
I thought this was a mediocre movie reminiscent of the old TV-movie-of-the-week genre. Bland, boring, not worthy of the talents of the stars. The subject is critically serious, but the movie itself was a big let-down. And yes, you never get an ounce of insight into why he did what he did.
Hey Do (Biddley)
Sure. Except that at the present moment Britain is dealing with a serial killer who floated from hospital to hospital for years. Lucy Letby, accused of killing 7 babies and possibly 10 more. A year ago I recall reading about a similar health care provider in Germany, and not the first one in that country in recent years. So it seems like a stretch to relate an abominable RN who mercilessly killed patients they were sworn to help heal to our (lamentable, unacceptable, pathetic, exceptional as in we're the only Western style democracy without universal health care) on our system, which is not a health care delivery system so much as one that aims to maximize profit extraction.
Noah (new mexico)
Watched it last night. It was EXCELLENT. Highly recommend. Chastaine and Redmayne's performances were both perfect, spot on!
Justa Woman (Denver)
Dreadful movie editing. Compelling story with the potential to evoke outrage from start to finish. Perhaps this failure was a parallel to the manner in which the hospitals failed as well.
Jack Dalton (California)
How a country with so much money puts up with one of the worst healthcare systems in the world is beyond me... ...oh, wait...I forgot. That's the whole point...$$$$$
Dr B (NJ)
Haven’t seen the movie but have seen the hospital portrayed. Like many American hospitals in well-to-do communities, it is sunny and bright. One of the distorting effects of the American health care system is that it can lead hospitals, in their efforts to fill their beds with well-insured patients, to pay too much attention to the superficial. Some American hospital lobbies outshine Four Seasons hotels. But then I cringe every time I watch Greys Anatomy too. It’s Hollywood.
Elizabeth (B)
@Dr B You think hospitals pay too much attention to the superficial? They are lightweights compared to nursing homes! The home I work in spends 12-15K/year on annuals planted outside. They know that people will look at all of that beautiful landscaping and assume the care is stellar. It is far from it. The staffing is so lean that residents have to wait for up to 45 minutes to use the bathroom. But hey- nobody sees that.
John B. Archibald (St. Petersburg, FL)
@Elizabeth As a former hospice nurse for 8 years, who visited many nursing homes, it was my experience that, the fancier the lobby, the worse the facility. If these places invested as much in patient care as they did on showy details, they’d have far less lawsuits, which is what they really care about.
Puzzled at times (USA)
This is a truly outstanding movie, the best movie coming out of the US in years.
Witt (Wisconsin)
This is definitely a good movie, superbly acted by the two leads and three supporting actors, and very informative in a way that doesn't challenge credibility. It has a 2-hour runtime but feels like half that because the big reveal at the start makes the rest of it riveting. What more can you ask?
HJB (New York)
This movie is very well acted, and is an indictment of the string of hospitals that effectively permitted these tragedies to occur, without doing proper investigation and without alerting the police. There is a peculiar oversight in the script of this movie. The culprit bad nurse is arrested and questioned, at great length, for several days without ever being advised of his rights. Similarly, after The culprit was released from custody, the good nurse was prompted, by the police, to secure a recorded confession. According to the movie, it was that confession which enabled the culprit to be prosecuted, tried and convicted. No mention at all of the culprit ever been given notice of his rights or of that issue being litigated. I can understand why the writers and editors did not want to get involved in that aspect of things, but those omissions from the script make it less true to life, and raise questions as to what else may have been omitted.
M.K. Ward (Louisiana)
@HJB Maybe it is that has been done so many times they just didn't want to take the time to shoot a scene like that.
lance (texas)
I cant watch any more movies like this. Until things get a little less bleak in real life I am sticking with a straight diet of John Candy and Steve Martin.
Jobim (Wilton Manors)
Chastain and Redmayne give excellent performances in a very grim film. Jessica Chastain is my absolute favorite; she truly permits the viewer into soul of her characters. I could watch her read that proverbial phone book. Brava.
Brett (NYC)
It was a bleak but good movie, with incredible performances, but this review was a total mess.
Dr. Schroedinger (CEERS-1749)
I haven't seen the movie yet, and may not. My comment is directed only towards the possible explanation as to why/how Cullen got away with it for so many years, in multiple hospitals. The reviewer, and maybe the movie, suggests hospitals/administrators may have wanted to avoid lawsuits. In my experience this is certainly a major possibility. I know of one RN who was let go for IV drug abuse which contributed to a patient's death - she was hired by another hospital months later. A Dr. who was caught in flagrante delicto with one of his patients. He was forced to resign, but no one at the hospital notified the hospital up the street of his behavior, and he remained on staff there. Another Dr. who was known to have received oral sex from an RN in the stairwell of the hospital; she was allowed to resign, without any mention of her indiscretion on her resume and references. Nothing was done about the Dr. Why did any of these happen? To avoid a lawsuit from patient's families, or the wealthy and powerful Drs.
Trish (Jax, FL)
@Dr. Schroedinger Very similar to Dr Death, the incompetent psycho neurosurgeon in Texas who moved from one hospital to another with no consequences or negative references. He would threaten to sue the hospitals who tried to fire him. If not for the efforts of 2 other drs to bring him down, who knows how many people he’d have killed or maimed. Ironically, we now have an eerily similar situation here in my city. These aren’t rare occurrences either
Milton Lewis (Toronto Ontario)
This was a very entertaining Netflix production. What is a huge mystery is how possibly 400 hundred patients were killed by this mass killer without some huge public outcry? And a major public inquiry? Did the private owned hospitals prevent the major inquiry?
M.K. Ward (Louisiana)
@Milton Lewis I haven't seen this, but my guess is he picked the very old.
Brooke Batchelor (Toronto Canada)
Just for the record - even with our (generally speaking) excellent universal health care here in Canada, we still manage to have created at least 1 nurse (Elizabeth Wettlaufer) who murdered her patients and one suspected (Susan Nelles), and did so over a fair bit of time, so perhaps Lindholm should have stepped a wee bit lighter on that theme.
Woollygirl (PDX, Oregon)
Nurses are highly skilled professionals who have peoples lives in their hands. This movie was a good portrayal of the professional skills of nurses and state of our health care system that continues its downward slide to the bottom.
Brooke Batchelor (Toronto Canada)
Geez. That's a lot of words when all I really want to know is whether it's any good.
Denise K (Boston)
@Brooke Batchelor it was. Troubling, but very well acted and written.
Ric Alonso (Rancho Mirage)
I read this article twice. I read a description but I couldn’t find the review.
Susan (Boston)
@Ric Alonso - LOL I did exactly the same. The review outlines grimly flawed elements of our healthcare system that were covered in the movie, but I couldn't figure out if the writer actually thought the movie was good or not.
Thom (NY)
@Ric Alonso I agree totally !!
Jrb (Earth)
@Ric Alonso Most of the people reviewing movies today aren't film critics but frustrated creative writers. Want a real review, look to an authentic, film-educated critic. Michael Phillips is my go-to.
David Cary Hart (North Bay Village, FL)
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and will probably watch it again. The acting is simply superb. The evolving chemistry between Chastain and Redmayne is perfectly scripted with considerable nuance. Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) is the scariest of villains. He is attractive, intelligent, collegial, helpful, not foaming at the mouth and never appearing to be guilty of anything. He is an intensely insane man who blends in perfectly with everyone else. What is "medical malpractice" if not allowing a potential murdered to move from hospital to hospital over a 16-year period of time? Cullen's last employment was at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, New Jersey. That facility has since merged with a Rutgers affiliated hospital. Despite their suspicions, three months elapsed before they contacted authorities. He murdered at least one patient during that time.
Jamakaya (Milwaukee)
@David Cary Hart Thank you. I'm glad that someone is willing to name one of the hospitals.
Ms. Pea (Seattle)
I feel l have to defend hospitals, at least my community hospital, from the piling on they are receiving in these comments. I had open heart surgery last year and my care could not have been more competent or more compassionate. My nurses were wonderful--kind and knowledgeable. Of course, I was not exposed to their working conditions, the expectations of management or the stress they may have been under. But, in spite of whatever might have been going on behind the scenes the care I received was stellar. Far from being dark and depressing, the hospital was bright, spotless and comfortable. I know this movie is based on a true story, but the nurse profiled is an outlier and a psychopath. He is one out of millions who are dedicated and proficient. It's unfair to judge all hospitals by the dreary and frightful depiction given in this movie.
MNMoose (Saint Paul)
@Ms. Pea I think you misunderstood the gist of this review. The medical staff in hospitals are indeed mostly dedicated and proficient, kind and knowledgeable. I also had open heart surgery a few years ago and experienced that. But the criticism is not of medical staff. I retired from hospital work after 41 years and watched over the years as admin became more concerned about how the hospital "appeared" to the public, and chasing the funding. Staff concerns regarding working environments were, and still are, largely ignored or placated. Nurses are leaving the profession in droves and some doctors are cynical and disillusioned. Something needs to give.
Steve (California)
It would be interesting to know about the real life story of the real-life Good Nurse - per this movie she is on deaths door needing heart transplant, is single mother of two, amazing nurse, only person in 9 hospitals who will speak up, crime investigator who teaches the detectives, and world's best interrogator of a serial killer. If even one of those is true, she is a goddess, but a nice NYT article would be about the real Good Nurse.
Sinead (london)
@Steve there is a short article here. https://news.sky.com/story/amp/the-good-nurse-the-true-story-of-killer-charles-cullen-and-the-colleague-who-brought-him-to-justice-12729287 I imagine they have taken some short cuts with the film. In this article she comments that she was sicker than portrayed. There have been some similar incidents in the UK - one serial killer Harold Shipman led to massive changes in how lone GP practices operated. There is a grim trial of a nurse ongoing that has shocked people who thought processes were put in place in hospitals after Beverly Allitt and other high profile cases.
Denise K (Boston)
@Steve they summarize her story in the afterward in the movie.
MarkT (New Mexico)
The theme re: a cancerous healthcare system is spot on. Despite efforts to improve medication safety, most institutions are not transparent - even re: sentinel events. A recent exemplar is the vecuronium incident at Vanderbilt. Institutions will state that they embrace Just Culture, but in reality that is not what they practice. Given the significant cultural deficits in healthcare, vulnerabilities that are exposed by this film are still a reality.
ron (reading, pa.)
I have not yet watched the movie, but I have read the book The Good Nurse : A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber. A fascinating read about this killer nurse. I will watch the movie soon, but I understand it is based on the last one-third of the book. For a true picture of Charles Cullen; pick up the book.
Susan Pfettscher (california)
I have not yet seen this move but will do so at earliest opportunity. People should not think, however, that this is an outlier event. I once lived in a small community in Indiana while teaching at the local university. The same event happened in a very small, rural community in an adjacent town. In this case, it was a Registered Nurse in the ICU who was able to truly discover what was going on by comparing deaths to staff caring for patients (this is now often done in suspicious situations). As I recall, no direct evidence could be found (per autopsy). This person was convicted and is now in jail based on a successful prosecution argument from a local attorney that involved the data that had been collected by this nurse. Because I was teaching nursing at the time, I recall that I had major concern that it would be one of my former/current students (it wasn't). Take heart--better control of medications in our health care settings has diminished this possibility, if not totally prevented.
crd (PNW)
The bigger crime in this story is that Amy Loughren was literally dying while working for a hospital and did NOT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE? The serial killer with the highest body count-and counting-is American health insurance policy that allows such egregious systemic abuse and the lack of a national health service. I honestly found that so troubling Cullen’s murders for me, paled in comparison. And there needs to be a larger national discussion about crimes committed in the name of neoliberalism.
Susan (California)
I looked forward to the movie and watched it the day it hit Netflix. I was disappointed. Having recently watched The Danish Girl (for a second time), I was sorely disappointed by Redmayne's performance in The Good Nurse. I watched it all the way through expecting more from him. I found it to be a mildly interesting story that wasn't especially compelling.
vertes (west of the rockies)
@Susan Redmayne presented a calm, kind, & capable demeanor while he was actually a monster & he did it very well. What did you want him to do? Roll his eyeballs? Twitch? Drool?
Kathleen Cahill (Tucson)
My husband and I watched The Good Nurse and we both thought it was one of the best films we've seen in a mighty long time. It is not predictable or formulaic and it has something to say about American life in late stage capitalism where financial concerns trump (just the right word here) all other considerations -- including good medicine and basic human values. Jessica Chastain plays a woman who is totally on her own this culture, raising two children, has to keep working when she needs medical care but the rules of insurance companies dictate her fate. Her character is not only a "good nurse" but a good person, a very good person. How can you call a move "dark" when it has such a character at its center. I think this reviewer should stick to reviewing super hero movies and sci-fi. In other words, cartoons, not the rare serious film with something to say.
Diane B (Colorado)
I agree it is quite dark, but have you been in a hospital? It clearly shows the underclass of workers-Nurses fighting uphill battles to give compassion while under their own abuse.
Lisa Murphy (Orcas Island)
Watched it last night. I thought it was very good.
KBinNYC (New York)
What? This movie based on a true-crime serial killer and the nurse who literally risked her life to expose him is too grim? Eddie Redmayne plays a genuinely nice guy who kills people and gets away with it, in a performance that is nuanced and stunning. The Jessica Chastain nurse can't get surgery she desperately needs because of our horrible medical system. The movie is too negative? No tap-dancing interludes to lighten the story? Why does the killer do it? The reviewer says his answer is muffled by sirens. He says it very clearly: "Because no one stopped me."
Robert Kastigar (Chicago IL)
I saw this in a theater before Netflix gobbled it up. Excellent movie, but a little dark and hard to watch because most of the scenes are in the hospital's Intensive Care unit.
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