There’s a tendency, when awards season comes around, to assume that the best performances are also the biggest. But in fact two of the very finest pieces of acting this year are at the opposite end of the spectrum: the restrained, minutely detailed, emotionally intelligent work delivered by Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne in the excellent, fact-based thriller The Good Nurse.
In this English-language debut of Danish director Tobias Lindholm, Chastain plays Amy Loughren, an intensive care nurse on the night shift, juggling a demanding job, caring for her two daughters and the time bomb of a potentially fatal heart condition. Amy is at breaking point when another nurse joins her shift: Charlie (Redmayne) is capable and calm. They soon become close friends as well as colleagues. But then Amy starts to suspect. Could her gentle, self-deprecating colleague be linked to a spate of unexpected deaths among their patients?
The film’s elegant framing and unobtrusive directorial choices give space for Chastain and Redmayne to fully inhabit their characters in a picture that combines compassion and empathy with a sickening swell of almost unbearable tension.
In cinemas from 19 October; on Netflix from 26 October