The Good Nurse is just too good to have any effect

The Good Nurse is just too good to have any effect

It's never really easy for non-American people to work in America. The Hollywood system is a unique system, a machine that is stronger than individuals and the ability to work inside the mechanism instead of guiding, orienting and folding it, the ability to adopt production flows and standardized and equal work times for all instead of imposing one's own is not for everyone, regardless of ability. And we haven't even started talking about the ability to work under maniacal control, having to account for all the choices and continually justify them to their bosses, that is, the producers. That is why very often excellent non-American filmmakers, directors or screenwriters fail to emerge in America. And that's why The Good Nurse is a difficult film to understand, neither truly American nor endowed with European good taste, a strange hybrid whose meaning is not understood.

The basis is the most classic of our years: a true fact. It is the story of a nurse accused of purposely causing the deaths of hundreds of patients over his years of work. The plot, however, more interesting than this, is a story of mystery first of all (no one has ever understood why it did it) seen from the eyes of another person, the woman who discovered and denounced it, who fought against the institutions (i.e. hospitals) which, on the other hand, seemed not to care about all the clues. In short, it is not difficult to understand what the producers saw in this news story and in the true crime novel that tells it and whose rights they have acquired; as it is not difficult to see why Tobias Lindholm was chosen to direct the film.

Director but above all Danish screenwriter who worked on Vinterberg's Suspicion (story of a man accused of harassment without evidence) but he also cut his teeth directing episodes of Mindhunter, which is precisely the investigation into the minds of the great serial killers dealt. Except that from the screenplay by Kristy Wilson-Cairns he has drawn a long and leaden precipice into boredom. If in fact the colors and atmospheres always in dim light are straightened by Mindhunter (who had been visually set by David Fincher, not by him), the dilated times and the concentration on the moments between an action and the other and therefore not on the action itself, they come straight from European cinema, without however the script being European. Lindholm applies the auteur cinema treatment to a script that is something else.

So the result is a thriller with a conventional twist (because it was written to resemble American classics) with the menacing figure , that is the killer, who is never threatening. On the contrary. When we see the typical scene in which the protagonist understands who is killing the patients and finds the killer at home playing with her children, we do not perceive any sense of danger. It could also be interesting and unsettling if the film were about that, about the ambiguity of the evil one and the fact that killers don't always have the form and attitude we expect. Too bad that, again, it's not about that and that the writing goes in another direction.

The Good Nurse (2022). Eddie Redmayne as Charlie Cullen. Cr. JoJo Whilden / Netflix JOJO WHILDEN / NETFLIX So in this suspense movie with atmospheres that scream "anxiety!" it is never clear what all this anxiety should put into it. Not Eddie Redmayne and his unsuspected and very peaceful serial killer, nor the whole subplot of the protagonist's heart problem, a theoretical time bomb (he risks really big but he can't rest otherwise he doesn't enjoy health insurance guaranteed by the workplace ) with which the film begins and which he explains very well but which at a certain point he forgets. How he no longer mattered. Only the lights and gray skies are left to the task of putting tension.

This parody of 1990s American tension films seems hard to really satisfy anyone, especially given how it goes in the opposite direction of the book it is from treatment. If the true-crime literature reconstructs with a maniacal air, it explains, puts it back together and always has the aim of bringing clarity where it seems impossible, making cases of news intelligible that when they took place were much more opaque, The Good Nurse instead wants to suggest, leave doubts and solve absolutely nothing. One wonders who forced them to adapt this story.

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