The new Netflix movie, The good nurseis based on the 2013 True Crime Book The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness and Murder by Charles Graber, which follows the crimes of Charles Cullen, a true serial killer who allegedly killed nearly 400 people during his 16 years as an infirmary. While Charles Cullen has remained at the center of fascination as a character shrouded in mystery from the start, much of the director Tobias Lindholmfocuses on the journey of Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) who developed a close bond with Eddie Redmayneit’s Charles. Although Amy falls in love with the facade of a serious and compassionate nurse created by Charles Cullen at first, over time she realizes that an evil beyond her imagination lies behind her dear colleague’s friendly demeanor. .
Instead of focusing on the initial crimes of Charles Cullen, The good nurse picks up from the beginning of the end for the notorious killer. Charles Cullen had a long history of being fired from the hospitals where he worked, but his real downfall began when his colleague and close friend, Amy Loughren, began to suspect Charles’ role behind the sudden rise in unexpected deaths. The good nurse depicts the events after Charles Cullen joins Somerset Hospital in New Jersey, where he meets Amy.
Was Amy Loughren a real person?
The real Amy Loughren worked with Charles Cullen at Somerset Hospital, whose name was changed to Parkfield Memorial Hospital for the film. Also in real life, Amy Loughren lived with her two daughters and suffered from cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that prevents the heart from pumping blood to the rest of the body. As shown in the film, Amy struggled to deal with stress at work as she had to work in intensive shifts. Amy and Charles’ friendship took off when Charles once found Amy out of breath and promised to help her until she got her health insurance. These events unfolded as depicted in the film. Later, to keep his promise made that night, Charles helped Amy by stealing medicine from the MedStation PYXIS using a hack. The fact that Charles knew how to hack into the MedStation proved key in Amy’s investigation, as she knew it was possible to remove drugs without leaving a solid trace.
In Good Nurse, Amy, and Charles are shown to have developed a great bond during their time as co-workers. Although a romantic angle was not fully established, Charles managed to strike up a friendship that made Amy confident enough to introduce him to her daughters. Also in real life, Charles Cullen had become close friends with Amy before she discovered the reality behind the otherwise hired medical professional. On her official website, Amy Loughren admitted to being a close friend of Charles Cullen, who was a confidant to her. She admitted to confiding in the man and adoring him before discovering his true self.
How did Amy find out about Charles Cullen’s crimes?
In Lindholm’s film, while the focus remains on the side of Amy’s story, it deviates a bit from how Amy discovered Charles Cullen’s crimes in real life. In The good nurse Amy remained oblivious to her colleague’s actions long before she was finally convinced that Charles was indeed responsible for the mysterious deaths that were occurring. In fact, we see in the film that Amy chose to swear by Charles’ innocence when detectives Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) and Danny Baldwin (Nnamdi Asomugha) first questioned her while investigating the death of Ms Martinez, a 77-year-old woman who was believed to be Charles’ first victim at Parkfield. It was only after some time that Amy discovered the small pieces of evidence that confirmed Charles’ crimes, according to the film.
According to Graeber’s book, Amy became suspicious of her colleague’s actions in reality when she reviewed Charles’ records. Filled with errors, the charts contained misspelled and misreported observations. More importantly, the system through which Amy accessed Charles’ records exhibited unusual browsing behavior on his part, as he spent a great deal of time browsing the records of patients cared for by other nurses. One glaring piece of evidence Amy found was the unusual combination of drugs Charles occasionally ordered. According to Graeber’s book, the list of medications Amy observed included medications given to patients in the cardiac unit, an unusual occurrence, given that Charles Cullen worked in the intensive care unit.
How did the police arrest Charles Cullen?
In the film, Amy helps detectives by wearing a wire to record Charles Cullen’s confession, in case she manages to break Charles. Detectives aim to bolster their investigation to implicate Charles Cullen for his crimes with the help of Amy. In the scene that follows, Amy and Charles meet at a local restaurant where Amy is constantly trying to get to the truth about the seasoned killer. Lindholm’s approach takes on a more emotionally confrontational tone as Amy desperately tries to get Charles to confess to his heinous crimes. In the film, while Charles is shown to thwart Amy’s attempts, he does so against great resistance after enduring significant turmoil within himself. It looks like Charles Cullen was close to giving up but ultimately chose not to.
Reality paints a completely different picture as in an interview with Newsweek, the real Amy Loughren revealed that Charles Cullen was much calmer and composed during the events depicted in the restaurant scene. Although Charles didn’t confess to his crimes in both the film and the real thing, he did so with relative ease in real life compared to the uphill battle he fights in the reel version. Thereafter, the events are quite specific as shown in the film. Charles Cullen is arrested by the police shortly after the meeting at the restaurant, and Amy visits his former colleague in the police cell where he confesses to Amy his crimes. The good nurse ends Amy’s story by stating that she has had heart surgery and lives in Florida. Amy and Charles’ story did not end with the latter’s arrest, as Amy paid Charles several visits during the trial and even exchanged a few letters.
Nicknamed “the Angel of Death,” Charles Cullen is currently serving his 18 consecutive life sentences in New Jersey State Prison. As noted at the end of the film, he is not eligible for parole until 2403. Amy lives in Florida with her children and grandchildren and is now pursuing a career as a Reiki master and meditation instructor. Although Lindholm’s film is very close to the real thing, it takes some creative liberties to ensure that the intended story elements come out in the best way. The good nurse presents a largely accurate depiction of the events leading up to the arrest of one of America’s most notorious serial killers, as the scale of his crimes continues to be a matter of debate among experts.