How a Diner Talk Builds Tension in ‘The Good Nurse’

The director Tobias Lindholm narrates a sequence featuring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne.

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By Mekado Murphy

In “Anatomy of a Scene,” we ask directors to reveal the secrets that go into making key scenes in their movies. See new episodes in the series on Fridays. You can also watch our collection of more than 150 videos on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

A staple in American cinema, the diner scene has been a go-to for acclaimed filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and David Fincher. Now, Tobias Lindholm, the Danish director making his first feature in the United States, “The Good Nurse,” hopes to add a memorable diner scene to the collection.

The movie is based on the story of Charles Cullen, the nurse who confessed to killing 29 patients at multiple hospitals in his career. Eddie Redmayne plays Charlie, and Jessica Chastain portrays Amy Loughren, a nurse who figures out his crimes after the two have become friends.

In this scene, Amy has set up a meeting with Charlie at a diner. She’s wearing a wire, and detectives are listening in. Her goal is to get Charlie to confess to the murders. The sequence mixes lunch-date mundanity with high-stakes tension in intriguing ways.

Narrating the video, Lindholm discusses how some of the elements that heighten the anxiety of the scene were executed — from tight framing to the movement outside that frame to the tools the actors use to convey a mix of emotions.

Read the “Good Nurse” review.

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