Although The Good Nurse, translated into Spanish as “The Angel of Death”, is not without psychological tension, it is not the typical production about a sensationalist murderer.
Based on journalist Charles Graeber’s book of the same name and directed by Tobias Lindholm, the film focuses on the true story of how Nurse Amy Loughren helped stop his colleague’s heinous actions Charlie Cullenwho killed dozens of patients in his care for more than a decade while working in various hospitals in USA.
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Loughren and Cullen They are played by Oscar winners Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne.
While Redmayne delivers a nuanced, menacing turn as the brooding killer, the film’s cornerstone is the heroism displayed by Chastain’s character, a single mother who suffers from a life-threatening heart condition while working on something she loves, but it is very demanding physically and mentally.
Chastain says that angle was what drew her to the film: “We usually fetishize violence and murder and [tenemos] the need to really explore the individual who was responsible for it. But what if we explore the individual who stops it? I think that’s very healing, as well as being a radical cinematic act.”
The actress adds: “I’ve lost someone very close to me. And when you’ve lost someone… [piensas] how could another person make a story and entertain with [el tema de] death?”.
the true story
Nurse Loughren formed a close bond with Cullen while they worked night shifts together at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey in the early 2000s. He was her confidante, helping her with the care of her daughters and covering for her. when he suffered severe shortness of breath due to his heart condition.
After several suspicious deaths at the hospital led to an investigation, police asked Loughren to help them. She provided them with evidence and ended up playing a crucial role in extracting Cullen’s confession. However, accepting that a close friend could have committed such terrible crimes took a toll on him.
Loughren, who is in better health after experimental heart surgery 18 years ago, says: “I fought the guilt of missing him [a Cullen]. I wrestled with the guilt of not seeing that this friendship also had a monstrous dark side.
“And I didn’t want to see it. I wanted to believe he was a merciful killer so I could keep worrying about him. And he wasn’t a merciful killer. He was a cold-blooded killer. I fought so hard that I didn’t notice.”
Now she is kinder to herself.
“I literally risked everything to make sure she was behind bars. I went in every day and every day I worked hard no matter how sick I was. Plus she was a mom there and a good nurse. And now seeing her [a Jessica interpretarla]I feel like I could be proud of that character. She opened up a space for me to say, ‘I did good.'”
How could something like this happen?
Danish filmmaker Lindholm, who wrote the TV series Borgen and movies like Another Round, says he didn’t really buy into Loughren’s story when he first read Krysty Wilson-Cairns’ script a few years ago.
He decided, then, that he had to meet with the nurse in person to establish if it was really true.
“I met her in New York… and everything was confirmed. Besides, she was brighter than I thought, more human. Her illness [del corazón] it had been much worse [de lo que pensaba]”.
Lindholm was used to “making movies with my nine best friends” in Copenhagen. He had never done a Hollywood studio movie before and didn’t think he ever would. He, too, had never made a film in English. But meeting Loughran made him change his mind.
“Right then and there, I decided I was going to make an American movie and try to make this work… to make a story about humanity, about the strength of one individual in this whole system that didn’t work.”
The system he is referring to is the one that allowed Cullen to move from hospital to hospital, giving him the opportunity to commit more murders.
He was laid off from five nursing jobs and quit two others due to concerns about his practices.
But during a 16-year career, he always found a new job. This is believed to be in part because hospitals did not share their suspicions about him for fear of being sued.
In the film, the legal team and the hazard officer at Somerset Medical Center (played by Kim Dickens) try to keep the police at bay by insisting that they are conducting an investigation, which seems like a never-ending process into any wrongdoing.
“As a consequence of the Charles Cullen case, every time someone is reported, their records now have to be kept for seven years. The fact that that hasn’t happened already…is amazing,” says Redmayne, clearly incredulous.
“The fact that these vulnerable people were allowed access is quite disconcerting.”
The US health system
The US healthcare system comes under scrutiny again in the film, as the production highlights the struggle of some people to access affordable healthcare.
Loughren was too sick to work, but was unable to qualify for health insurance until she worked at the hospital for a year. So she had to continue in employment against medical advice.
In one scene, she is seen scrambling for enough money to pay nearly $1,000 for a heart checkup, eventually splitting it between two credit cards.
The final word on what legacy the film might leave should perhaps rest with Loughren, who is now a purveyor of alternative medicine.
“This platform that I have right now is really about giving victims a voice…because everyone was saying that [Cullen] he was a merciful killer and they were going to die anyway. No they did not. Many of his victims were very young. Many of his victims were about to leave the hospital and he stole their opportunity. And their families deserve that voice.”
The Good Nurse will be in select UK cinemas from October 19 and can be seen on Netflix from October 26. A documentary based on the story, titled Capturing The Killer Nurse, will also be available on Netflix starting November 11.
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.