By Lynn Venhaus
Ah, risk management, the American medical system and a litigious society are focal points into a criminal investigation of mysterious patient deaths in the riveting “The Good Nurse.”

But what separates this true crime drama as more of a ‘howdunit,’ rather than a whodunit, is the way the real-life characters are humanely portrayed. Oscar winners Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) are in top form, delivering nuanced, lived-in performances as two empathetic nurses leaning on each other. Their bond is believable and the heart of the story.

In his first English language film, director Tobias Lindholm focused on the friendship between real-life nurses Amy Loughren and Charlie Cullen who worked the demanding night shift at a New Jersey hospital in 2003.

Amy (Chastain) is a single mother struggling with a life-threatening heart condition. New employee Charlie Redmayne) starts sharing the night shift, and because he’s thoughtful and helpful, they develop a tight bond. After a couple of patients die unexpectedly, alarm bells go off.

The shy but attentive Cullen had been bouncing around several hospitals, with whispers and suspicions, but superiors – worried about lawsuits and unwanted law enforcement involvement – seemed to ‘send it on’ down the road (not unlike the Catholic Church dioceses, we learned when the pedophile priest scandals blew wide open).

Until compassionate Amy, doing her job, helped investigators, at great personal risk. Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha are convincing as the Newark detectives frustrated by the system’s closed doors and lack of communication. As a risk management superior, Kim Dickens is chilling — an ice-cold corporate manager whose doubt creeps in, subtly readable on her face, but she does not budge.

Noah Emmerich, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jessica Chastain

I was unfamiliar with Cullen’s story, which made Redmayne’s characterization even more terrifying. Dubbed “The Angel of Death” by the media after his arrest, he was a merciless monster hidden in plain sight (And also more complicated than the true-crime ‘boxes’ often used in storytelling.)

Chastain deftly conveyed Amy’s growing concern over her friend being the prime suspect. If you are unaware of the case, it makes you think the hospital bureaucracy is hiding information and the police are targeting individuals unfairly.

Lindholm’s focus is on Amy as an ordinary hero who makes extraordinary decisions because she is a ‘good nurse.’ She’s a single mother struggling with a life-threatening heart condition, trying to do the best she can for her family’s future. Her integrity and intelligence are evident in Chastain’s shrewd performance.

It makes a resolution for the nerve-wracking mystery even more urgent.

Screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Oscar-nominated for “1917,” has smartly adapted the 2013 nonfiction book by Charles Graeber, “The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder,” which details dozens of deaths over a period of 16 years, at nine hospitals in two states. Cullen confessed to 29, but as the title cards at the end state, the real count could be hundreds.

Lindholm, who directed the Danish films “The Hunt” and “A Hijacking,” effectively builds tension. The music score by Biosphere adds to that growing unease as well.

While I’m not usually a fan of so much natural lighting, it does give the film a realistic you-are-there feel. Cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes, who worked on “Manchester by the Sea,” created a mood through the gray days and playing with the shadows of a mundane workplace overnight, hinting at evil lurking in storage rooms and hospital beds through dim fluorescent lighting.

The film’s hushed tones and how methodically it details the steps to finally catching the killer comes together in satisfying fashion.

With its stellar cast, “The Good Nurse” succeeds as a cautionary tale by highlighting the everyday healthcare heroes doing heartfelt work. But also shows how aberrant behavior can go undetected, and lays bare the cracks in the system.

To the brave souls willing to stick their neck out for the truth, this movie’s for you.

“The Good Nurse” is a 2022 true-crime drama directed by Tobias Lindholm and starring Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne, Noah Emmerich, Nnamdi Asomugha and Kim Dickens. It is rated R for language and the run time is 2 hours, 1 minute. In select theaters Oct. 19 and streaming on Netflix beginning Oct. 26. Lynn’s Grade: B+

 The Critics Choice Association has announced the additional honorees and presenters that will join, virtually, the third annual Celebration of Black Cinema on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.  The ceremony will be hosted by author and media personality Bevy Smith

Following its invitation-only digital premiere, the event will be shared with the public on KTLA and offered to all Nexstar Media Group television stations.  KTLA will air the 90-minute Celebration of Black Cinema special in Los Angeles on Saturday night, February 6th.   

Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) will receive the Performance of the Year Award for his magnetic and heartbreaking portrayal of Levee, an ambitious musician struggling to earn the recognition he deserves in a world, and a recording studio, built against him.  

A special donation in Chadwick Boseman’s name will be designated to provide scholarships to students participating in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Gold Program.  The Academy Gold Program is an industry talent development, diversity and inclusion initiative to provide individuals, with a focus on underrepresented communities, access and resources to achieve their career pathways in filmmaking.   

Zendaya & John David Washington (Malcolm & Marie) will receive the NextGen Award for their work on the highly anticipated Malcolm & Marie, which was filmed safely amid the pandemic and became one of the most sought-after projects of the season.  Washington and Zendaya portray a filmmaker and his girlfriend returning home from his movie premiere and awaiting the critical response. 

Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah) will receive the Director Award for his visionary telling of the story of American civil rights leader Chairman Fred Hampton, iconic leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party who was ultimately killed in 1969. 

Tommie Smith (With Drawn Arms) will receive the Social Justice Award.  An iconic athlete and activist, in With Drawn Arms, Smith reflects on his iconic fist-thrust silent protest on the medal stand during the nation anthem at the 1968 Summer Olympics, a moment that helped define the civil rights movement. 

The Celebration of Black Cinema honorees will be fêted by a prestigious group of presenters who will celebrate their work and their ongoing commitment to telling Black stories on film, including Nnamdi Asomugha, Lee Daniels, Michael Ealy, Dominique Fishback, Taraji P. Henson, Daniel Kaluuya, Jonathan Majors, Kemp Powers, Aaron Sorkin, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Williams, and George C. Wolfe

As previously announced, the event will recognize Delroy Lindo (Career Achievement Award), John Legend & Mike Jackson (the Producers Award), Tessa Thompson (the Actor Award), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (the Breakthrough Award), Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli GoreeAldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom, Jr. (the Ensemble Award),and Andra Day (Special Honoree Award). 

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA) 

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 400 television, radio and online critics and entertainment reporters. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the blurring of the distinctions between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: