September 17, 2022

Toronto Film Festival Reviews: “The Good Nurse” & “My Policeman”


THE GOOD NURSE (Netflix – Oct. 26):  An unusually serious thriller about a serial killer.  Tobias Lindholm’s film, from a script by Krysty Wilson-Cairns (who wrote 1917 and  Last Night In Soho) and based on a book by Charles Graeber that recounted a true story, has a deliberately ambiguous title.  It seems at first to beleaguered Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) that Charlie Cullen’s (Eddie Redmayne) arrival on her service at a New Jersey hospital is a blessing.  Amy is a single mom with a life-threatening heart condition, and she’s months away from qualifying for health insurance at the hospital; Charlie, the only one who knows her secret, is compassionate and helpful, both with Amy and with their patients.  But then some of those patients start mysteriously dying, and Amy is forced to acknowledge her suspicions.  The storyline may sound familiar from years of genre thrillers, but everyone involved with The Good Nurse keeps its tone under tight control that proves to be extremely effective.  Lindholm is a Danish filmmaker whose recent work includes episodes of Mindhunter and HBO’s The Investigation, which took similarly low-key approaches to sensational material.  Jessica Chastain’s realistically-scaled performance here is arguably even more notable than the more histrionic work she’s been doing on celebrated projects like The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and Redmayne breaks type but not in a “look at me act!” way, instead gradually ratcheting up the dangerousness of his character.  There’s also strong supporting work by Noah Emmerich and Nnamdi Asomugha as the cops who won’t let go of the case, and by Kim Dickens as a personification of corporate amorality, with no guiding principle other than protecting the hospital from financial risk.  The Good Nurse is smart and humane, with more staying power than most of the potboilers that tackle similar subject matter.

MY POLICEMAN (Amazon – Oct. 21):  In other words “the other” Harry Styles movie, after the far more publicized Don’t Worry Darling, this being the one best known because the character he plays is gay.  If it weren’t for Styles’ presence, My Policeman would hardly create a stir.  Theatre director Michael Grandage’s second feature film (the first was the little-seen Maxwell Perkins biography Genius in 2016), is from a script by Ron Nyswaner adapting a novel by Bethan Roberts.  It’s well-made in the stately tradition of James Ivory’s literary films, particularly his 1987 adaptation of E.M. Forster’s Maurice, which like My Policeman dealt with a protagonist struggling to accept his homosexuality in a staid British society that made it a scandal and a crime.  (To make things almost meta, Roberts’ novel was reportedly inspired by Forster’s real-life long-term romance with a closeted policeman.)  Nyswaner’s script tells its story in two timelines.  The main action occurs in the 1950s era when Tom (Styles) courts schoolteacher Marion (Emma Corrin) while secretly carrying on a relationship with museum curator Patrick (David Dawson), who presents himself as a friend to both.  This story is interspersed with scenes set decades later where Marion (Gina McKee), who learned of the romance years earlier, takes a stroke-ridden Patrick (Rupert Everett) home to live with her and Tom (Linus Roache) while he recuperates, and the three attempt to come to terms with their tangled history.  To answer the burning question, Styles is fine as the younger Tom, ably portraying his joy and torment as he finds a love he can’t publicly acknowledge.  By its nature, Tom is the most constricted role in the story; Corrin and Dawson have the showier parts to play, and while they don’t overshadow Styles, they have more chances to make strong impressions.  My Policeman is polished and handsome, with cinematography by Ben Davis (he also shot this year’s more striking TIFF entry The Banshees of Inisherin) and production design by Maria Djurkovic, and the story it tells is a worthy one.  Other than for Styles fans, though, it doesn’t seem likely to generate much excitement.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."