At The Movies: The Good Nurse and Come Back Home deliver tension and thrills

Eddie Redmayne (left) and Jessica Chastain in The Good Nurse. PHOTO: NETFLIX

The Good Nurse (NC16)

123 minutes, on Netflix

4 stars

The story: A nurse (Jessica Chastain) at a New Jersey hospital suspects a co-worker (Eddie Redmayne) is behind a number of unexplained patient deaths. Who she would eventually expose is America’s most prolific serial killer.

By the time of his arrest in 2003, Charles Cullen was believed to have murdered some 400 patients via insulin over a 16-year nursing career at nine East Coast hospitals.

The Good Nurse, based on the 2013 book of the same name by journalist Charles Graeber, does not sensationalise or psychoanalyse. It is not even about Cullen.

The true-crime drama locates instead a much more human story in Amy Loughren and her friendship with Cullen, and Chastain and Redmayne – two actors whose showiness won them Academy Awards for The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021) and The Theory Of Everything (2014) respectively – impress in their underplaying.

Loughren is a dedicated caregiver and struggling single mum with a heart condition. Cullen is the new hire, gentle if a touch odd, who comes along and relieves her exhausting shifts at the emergency ward.

They develop a bond she then betrays by risking her life to stealthily gather evidence against him. Chastain gets Loughren’s anguish, fear and extraordinary courage.

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Also compelling are Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha’s dogged detective duo who enlist her help as the hospitals conspire a cover-up to avoid malpractice lawsuits.

This procedural thriller from Danish director Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking, 2012) is gripping and chilling. It indicts the American corporate healthcare system for the deaths by allowing them. Those profit-over-ethics bureaucrats were Cullen’s abettors. Asked why he killed, Cullen says: “No one stopped me.”

Hot take: Chastain and Redmayne deliver their best performances in a real-life medical investigation that drip-feeds tension.

Come Back Home (PG)

102 minutes, opens on Thursday

3 stars

Donnie Yen in Come Back Home. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

The story: Donnie Yen plays a Shenzhen engineer whose son is missing in the snowy mountains. Can he channel his inner Ip Man and save the day?

Yen’s grounded performance throughout this disaster drama is well-supported by Cecilia Han as the stoic mother in the ill-fated winter family vacation. The father and his rebellious eight-year-old (Jinhui Yuan) spat while driving up the Changbai Mountains in north-east China. Next thing they know, the boy is gone.

The local authorities mobilise a massive search-and-rescue operation, and warn that no one has survived the extreme conditions.

Come Back Home was filmed on location in these very sub-zero temperatures to spectacular effect.

A treacherous frozen river and an avalanche bring sustained thrills, but Hong Kong director Lo Chi Leung is more interesting than just an action film-maker: Has there ever been a crime drama like his Double Tap (2000) or The Bullet Vanishes (2012)? The vast set pieces here are backdrops to an intimate profile of a desperate father’s guilt and heedless heroism, risking all to find his child.

He butts heads with the rescue team (mainly, the constable played by Jia Bing), and fights off a kidnapping gang.

 Donnie Yen plays a Shenzhen engineer whose son is missing in the snowy mountains in Come Back Home. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

The hours tick by, and before long, he and his wife are trading angry recriminations as flashbacks to their once-happy home show how he had over the years become an absentee dad worn down by work and mortgage.

Yen commits passionately to this flawed family man on a redemptive arc that the movie, to its credit, follows though to an uncompromising end.

Hot take: Every parent’s worst nightmare, convincingly dramatised.

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