Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne's

‘Good Nurse’ shines a light on U.S. health care system and what needs to change

“Good Nurse,” a new film from Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne, depicts the tale of Charles Cullen: an ICU nurse who confessed to killing 29 patients, but may have actually murdered over 300. Based on Charles Graeber’s 2013 book by the same name, the movie focuses on Amy Loughren (Chastain), one of Cullen’s colleagues and friends who brings his crimes to light and halts his pattern of killings.

Director Tobias Lindholm and screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns stated that they intentionally chose to focus the story on Loughren and the systematic failures within the U.S. healthcare system which resulted in Cullen’s 16 year murder spree.

Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne star in Netflix’s new film “Good Nurse” based on the true story of serial killer Charles Cullen.

Lindholm said that she saw potential in doing a serial killer story in a new way, where we wouldn’t be focused on why the killer is doing this or how damaged they are as a person, but instead take a step back and look at why and how this could happen.

“He’s not Hannibal Lecter in my mind. He’s just a fairly simple guy doing a fairly simple thing, but with the system allowing it,” Lindholm said.

Jessica Chastain And Eddie Redmayne'S

Cullen used his position as a nurse to kill patients by injecting them with lethal doses of medication through their IV bags. He was able to avoid detection by transferring from hospital to hospital in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Both the book and film suggest that for-profit hospitals covered up for Cullen’s actions in order to avoid potential liability.

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“This case asks us if it’s a good idea for people to profit off of other people’s health,” Lindholm said. “Is it ethical for hospitals operate primarily as businesses?”

Wilson-Cairns began her adaptation of Graeber’s book 10 years ago. In an interview with the AP, she recalled how she started her research by visiting Loughren at her home.

“I was 23 or 24 when I first showed up to Amy’s house in upstate New York,” Wilson-Cairns said. “I remember being so nervous and thinking: ‘I’ve never done this before. It’s really important to me. It’s your life story. Can you help me?”

In addition, Wilson-Cairns shadowed nurses for two weeks at a hospital in Connecticut. “What I found is that the actual health care providers — the doctors, the nurses, the radiologists, and anesthesiologists are incredible people who routinely put their lives on the line,” she said. “I think even at 10 times their current salary, they wouldn’t be overpaid.”

Chastain drew upon the real life Loughren for her character, talking to the nurse frequently to gain insights. To make sure that audiences would see Loughren’s arrhythmia as realistic, Chastain jogged around prior to filming scenes in order continuously get her heart rate up . Additionally, during shooting she wore an ear piece that had a beating heart sound which could be accelerated according to the scene requirements.

Jessica Chastain And Eddie Redmayne'S

“She worked nights so her daughters felt like she was a stay-at-home mom. That’s what she kept saying, that her kids saw her when they were awake,” said Chastain of Loughren’s dedicationto making time for motherhood despite holding down two jobs.”

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Redmayne, who played the role of Cullen, watched footage of the real-life Cullen from his court appearances and interviewed him in 2013. After carefully studying his actions and demeanor, Redmayne was able to accurately depict who Cullen really is.

Redmayne stated that what caught his eye was something in the nurses physicality. “He’s a very still man, but if you actually look close enough, you’ll see he’s always touching fabrics or something similar as if he’s trying to soothe himself.”

“Good Nurse” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 11, and Loughren’s work was celebrated with a standing ovation. Wilson-Cairns said that it meant a lot to see an ordinary woman lauded for her heroism.

“This woman just wasn’t recognized for what she did,” Wilson-Cairn said. “People don’t think of ordinary women as these kind of heroes nearly enough.”

“To see Amy finally receive recognition for saving countless lives, I thought to myself: That’s not a bad way to spend a decade. I would do it again.”

“Good Nurse” will begin streaming on Netflix on Oct. 26.

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