Medical serial killer movie focuses on ‘A good nurse’ who helped catch him – Reuters

FILM REVIEW BY CARROLL MCCUNE

THE GOOD NURSE

Adapted from the book “A Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine,

Madness and Murder” by Charles Graeber (2013).

Released by Netflix on October 26, 2022.

Director: Tobias Lindholm

Screenwriter: Krysty Wilson-Cairns

Director of photography: Jodi Lee Lipes

Sound: Biosphere

CAST

Jessica Chastain as Amy Loughren

Eddie Redmayne as Charles Cullen

Noah Emmerich as Tim Braun

Nnamdi Asomugha as Danny Baldwin

Kim Dickens as Mary Lund

Director Tobias Lindholm eschews the true detective genre, complaining that it’s not an art form. Therefore, “The Good Nurse” is a drama/thriller thriller based on the true story of infamous medical serial killer Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) and his colleague Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain).

Danish director Tobias Lindholm and Scottish screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns adapted their story from journalist Charles Graeber’s 320-page book of the same name, but focused only on the last four months of Cullen’s employment at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey (called Parkfield Memorial in the film) and the weeks surrounding his arrest on December 14, 2003. Although Graeber’s book is a comprehensive account of Cullen’s sixteen-year career as a murderous intensive care nurse , the filmmakers have chosen to make Amy Loughren the protagonist of their picture and it is her story that we follow from beginning to end.

In a movie that claims to be about a serial killer, why would the filmmakers choose to elevate Amy Loughren’s story above Charles Cullen’s? Amy’s courage to risk everything to prevent more patients from falling victim to Cullen certainly qualifies her as a true heroine. She embodied the current plight of single working mothers, who are double-burdened and torn between conflicting responsibilities.

Tobias Lindholm said that after reading the script, “I was immediately struck by the stepping stones the screenwriter had left for a story where we wouldn’t be fascinated by the serial killer, which was the obvious choice, but we would be fascinated and identify with the nurse who stopped him.It was, for me, a way in which the material emphasized the value of humanity and not just the obsession with darkness.

Also, the mind of a serial killer may be unfathomable, but the mind of a woman who may love such a person invites exploration.

Amy was a single mother who suffered from cardiomyopathy and struggled to support her two young daughters by working night shifts in the intensive care unit in Parkfield. She needed four more months of work before she was eligible for medical benefits that would pay for heart surgery that could save her life. The film is about Amy’s courage, suffering and unlikely friendship with Charles Cullen, who helped her manage her difficult load of patients at Parkfield and care for her daughters.

The plot centers around the frustrated efforts of police detectives (Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha) to bring charges against Charlie. Their efforts are thwarted by Mary Lund (Kim Dickens), the hospital’s risk manager’s determination to obstruct the police investigation in order to protect the hospital’s reputation and escape liability lawsuits. Amy’s cooperation with detectives as a confidential informant jeopardizes her job and her ability to obtain life-saving surgery.

Graeber’s book describes Charles Cullen as a brilliant, handsome, proud, and complicated man, who had “eyes that splayed, looking in two separate directions, as if each belonged to two separate beings”. He was soft-spoken and showed extraordinary kindness and compassion towards his patients and overworked nurse Amy.

While Jessica Chastain’s task was to convey Amy’s anxiety, physical pain and emotional turmoil, Redmayne’s task was to reveal Charlie’s inner malevolence which he accomplished almost entirely with his eyes while half of her face was generally shrouded in shadow. He also used his long fingers held in spider-like positions, curled into fists or hanging lifelessly at his side as he sleepwalked through the dimly lit hallways of the hospital to suggest sinister intent.

Since nothing horrifying happens onscreen, the film only hints at how Cullen passively kills without even being present when patients

succumb to missed medication – the filmmakers relied on minimalist cinematography, chiaroscuro lighting and chilling Biosphere sound design to create suspense.

The incessant synthesized hum and heightened sound of breathing, beeping from bedside monitors and other jarring ambient noises created a sense of impending doom.

Although Amy doesn’t know that Charlie is a killer, she is well aware that her own life may depend on his friendship and help. Although two of her patients “code” and die unexpectedly and Charlie steals a heart medication she needed but couldn’t afford, she doesn’t begin to suspect Charlie of foul play until when detectives arrive.

Charlie had made the mistake of explaining to her how he had stolen the drugs from her without raising the alarm. But hospital administrators were alarmed and launched an internal investigation into the suspicious deaths, eventually, albeit reluctantly, alerting the police.

The introspective filmmakers focused on Cullen’s humanity rather than her inhumanity, and completely ignored the crucial question of why or what drove the compassionate nurse to murder so many vulnerable patients.

Newspapers reported that Cullen allegedly killed up to 400 people at nine different hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey from 1987 to 2003. Other hospital administrators suspected Cullen of playing a role in the inexplicable deaths of patients, but preferred to fire him for minor rule violations. and pass it along with neutral recommendations to unsuspecting hospitals.

The climactic scene at the end of the film in which Amy’s soothing presence prompted Cullen to finally confess – after the detectives’ aggressive tactics failed to break him – elevated Amy’s role within a blocked criminal justice system. And its ability to outsmart a corporatized health care system that essentially enabled Charlie’s killing spree underscored the film’s social commentary on the value of a single individual versus a powerful institution.

In fact, the film’s script gives no insight into Cullen’s compulsion to kill, an issue Eddie Redmayne discussed in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. Keith Bennie, Senior Director of TIFF, asked: “In a job like this, do you feel like part of your job as an actor, as a storyteller, is to help uncover a meaning or suggestion as to what might have motivated Charlie?” The Oscar-winning actor who is known for immersing himself in his characters, replied, “I’ll find it.” He then recited numerous incidents from Graeber’s book in Cullen’s early life that marked him out as an incredibly damaged person, beginning with his miserable childhood and the untimely deaths of both his parents from bullying and abuse. abuse by much older siblings, attempted murder of his brother-in-law when he was seven years old, twenty suicide attempts, several incarcerations in psychiatric wards, a psychiatric discharge from the navy, relationships failed love affairs and an arrest for harassment. However, Redmayne concluded, “I don’t believe there’s a single motivation; a reason.”

During the interrogation scene, when Amy asked Charlie why he did it, he only gave this cryptic answer: “They didn’t arrest me.” Which isn’t so much a revelation of Cullen’s motivation as an indictment of our for-profit health care system. The real Amy Loughren, who still calls Charlie her friend, thinks he had OCD gone wrong.

But if you want a more insightful analysis of the mind of a serial killer, read Graeber’s book or watch the documentary “Capturing the Killer Nurse” released by Netflix on November 10 and written and directed by British filmmaker Tim Travers. Hawkins.

It is more compelling than drama and features actual video of Charles Cullen’s interrogation and a taped interview with journalist Charles Graeber. Cullen says, “I couldn’t watch people get hurt… Sometimes there were things I could do to end their suffering.

About Lucille Thompson

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