THE GOOD NURSE (2022)

October 26, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. A film focusing on a single mom who works as a dedicated and caring and overworked ICU nurse, and who is diagnosed with a heart condition requiring a transplant, and who is trying to hang on to her job long enough to secure medical insurance, and who is a loving mom to her two young kids, would normally have enough drama and stress to carry the story. But that’s not nearly enough for filmmaker Tobias Lindholm, who has written three outstanding screenplays: THE HUNT (2012), A WAR (2017), and ANOTHER ROUND 2020). Here he’s directing a Krysty Wilson-Cairns (LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, 2021) adaptation of Charles Graeber’s book about the man who may very well be the most prolific serial killer in history.

Jessica Chastain plays nurse Amy Laughren, who is faced with numerous challenges both at work and at home. Despite needing a heart transplant, she keeps this secret from her employer so that she can work the last few months needed to gain health insurance through the New Jersey hospital where she works. Strained beyond reasonableness, she sees hope when a new nurse is hired. Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) discovers her secret and offers to help her – not just with her patient workload, but also with her parenting responsibilities. Charlie is a Godsend for Amy.

Too soon, doubts begin to show. One of Amy’s patients dies unexpectedly, and the hospital administrator (Kim Dickens) calls the police, in what is a defensive move to protect the hospital’s business rather than uncover the truth. The detectives played by Noah Emmerich and (former NFL star) Nnamdi Asomugha feel handcuffed in their investigation as the hospital blocks their efforts at every turn. Their suspicion focuses on Charlie and his strange work history of being dismissed by 9 previous hospitals.

The obvious evil here is a medical professional who kills patients, but the enabler of this evil is a hospital system that values reputation and finances over the morally correct decisions. Both are frightening and both are dangerous. Cullen killed at least 29 people, and is suspected of killing upwards of 400. Lindholm sticks to a drab palette to match the grim subject matter, and both Ms. Chastain and Mr. Redmayne take low key approaches to two characters … one heroic and one truly dangerous.

Streaming on Netflix beginning October 26, 2022

WATCH THE TRAILER


SUPER 8

June 13, 2011

 Greetings again from the darkness. A nostalgic feeling generated by nostalgic filmmaking at the hands of JJ Abrams and classic Spielberg. Yes, I meant to use nostalgic twice … the film has a familiar feel to it, but also entirely new twists and effects. That’s what happens when the master (Steven Spielberg) and the star pupil (Abrams) unite.

Part of the nostalgia is that this is kind of a throwback to the blockbuster era that Spielberg helped create. There are bits and pieces of Jurassic Park, E.T., The Goonies, *Batteries not Included, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jaws. Spielberg has always had a nice feel for kids and emotions, and in this film the genius of Abrams’ script and special effects make for a spectacular combination.

 You know there is nothing more fun for these filmmakers than a story about smart, outcast kids obsessed with making a movie! Throw in the adolescent battle over the out-of-reach older girl, the somewhat demented kid who just loves explosions, the sensitive kid dealing with the death of his mother, the wise beyond her years girl who is a natural actress, and the chubby, driven boy with a camera … mix it up with a couple of clueless parents and the evil, secretive Air Force, a sci-fi element and you have quite the exciting small town Ohio drama with comedic elements and startling special effects.

Not going to say anything about the “surprise” that was hinted in the trailer, but what I will say is that the first hour of this movie was pure movie magic to me. Unfortunately, the second half was a slight let down, though certainly not horrible. I just enjoyed the pure human elements on display before it became just another …

 The film really rides on the shoulders of Elle Fanning (probably the last time I will reference her as Dakota’s little sis). Ms. Fanning has proved again that she may be the most talented of the acting sisters. She really has a feel for her scenes and clearly melts the heart of young Joe Lamb, played by newcomer Joel Courtney. Also excellent are Riley Griffiths as Charles the movie maker, and Ryan Lee as Cary the demolition “expert”. Joe’s dad is played by Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), but again, this film really belongs to the kids.

The film is rated PG-13 for some pretty intense scenes and some language that many prefer not to hear coming from kids. It’s too bad more films “like” this aren’t made, but that’s probably a factor of not many filmmakers being in the class of Spielberg and Abrams (Lost, Star Trek).

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you can sit back and enjoy a big ol’ blockbuster with a fun script and giant special effects

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you prefer high art that taxes the mind