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The Good Nurse: When Medicine Kills

Content warning: Murder

Nurses are heroes in our society. They help the sick, respond quickly to disasters, and are necessary for our society to function. However, they also have a lot of power that some may not use for good. The Good Nurse is based on the true story of Charlie Cullen, a man suspected of murdering over 400 patients under his care over some amount of years in New Jersey, and is considered America’s most prolific serial killer (Carey). This movie, based on Charles Graeber’s 2013 book The Good Nurse, retells this story on the big screen. It follows Amy Loughren, an ICU nurse who worked with Cullen, and tells the story of how she helped piece together that he had a part in the deaths of some of her patients. Although she had no previous law enforcement experience, Loughren was a vital part of the investigation and helped to get Cullen’s confession to committing 40 murders in hospitals throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania on tape.

Image of Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne, the starring actors in The Good Nurse

Although these true events are dramatized to be put into a movie, Amy Loughren herself confirmed that, “the depiction was ‘very, very real.’ Save for the difference in length (Loughren said the two talked for multiple hours before Cullen confessed, which was abridged for obvious reasons), Loughren says that the interactions were extremely accurate to what happened in real life,” (Carey). Tobias Lindholm, director of A War and A Hijacking also directed The Good Nurse. Lindholm is familiar with drama and thriller projects, and his expertise is clear in this movie (IMDb). The confession scene follows the true story closely, but all of the victims' names and stories within the movie are purposefully fictional in an attempt to avoid emotional distress and extra trauma to the people affected by these terrible crimes.

Image of Charlie Cullen following his arrest

As someone who enjoys Criminal Minds and various other true crime shows, I thought this movie was really well done. Not only does the story follow real events fairly accurately, it also covers how the murderer was caught and focuses most on Amy Loughrey and the officers that remained persistent about the mysterious deaths at the hospital. Some viewers may think that the story progresses slowly, because the groundwork is clearly laid out in order to ensure all of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place at the right time, but it may not maintain some attention spans due to the length of these informational sequences. During these plot-forwarding moments, the acting and dialogue are essential to maintain audience focus, and Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne (the starring actors in The Good Nurse) do this incredibly well.

If you’re looking for a true crime thriller that follows an incredible protagonist and is filled with both talent and terror, this is the movie for you. The Good Nurse is available to watch on Netflix.

Works Cited

Carey, Emma. “'The Good Nurse' True Story, According to Amy Loughren.” Esquire, 3 November 2022, Accessed 7 November 2022.

“Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain in The Good Nurse (2022).” IMDb, Accessed 7 November 2022.

Freedman, Adrianna. “Is 'The Good Nurse' a True Story? Here's How Charles Cullen's Arrest Really Happened.” Good Housekeeping, 29 October 2022, Accessed 7 November 2022.

“The Good Nurse.” Rotten Tomatoes, Accessed 7 November 2022.

IMDb. “Tobias Lindholm.” IMDb, Accessed 14 November 2022.

Nicholson, Amy. “'The Good Nurse' Review: Bad Medicine.” The New York Times, 28 October 2022, Accessed 7 November 2022.

Elizabeth Bentley is a senior at Poudre High School, and this is her first year at the Poudre Press. She writes The Occhiolism Operation, a movie review blog that you can check out here!

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