Director: Benny and Josh Safdie
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Taliah Webster, Barkhad Abdi, Necro, and Jennifer Jason Leigh
If you are going to make bad choices, it's important to stay a step ahead of them. Directors Benny and Josh Safdie make the most of this method in the new film "Good Time". Starting with a bank heist gone sideways, The Safdie's move through a manic and murky night on the streets of Queens accompanying a slimy purveyor of bad choices portrayed by Robert Pattinson. "Good Time" will keep you anxious of every single choice that is made.
Connie (Robert Pattinson) and Nick (Benny Safdie) are brothers. Nick is mentally disabled and Connie is, simply put, a terrible person. Connie coerces Nick into helping him rob a bank, things don't go as planned and Nick is snatched by the cops. Connie doesn't seem very concerned in the moment about his brother's well being, though he does work to pay for bail after the fact. In an effort to save his brother from jail time, Connie spends a night doing everything he can to free his brother.
The Safdie's are crafty filmmakers, seemingly influenced by director Michael Mann's style of nighttime photography and the sense of momentum found in films like "Thief" and "Collateral". The directors create a breakneck pulse for their film; from the jittery motion of the camera during frantic chase scenes, to the unfocused nature of photography during conversations, and the floating camera that offers a bird's eye view of the journey on the streets, the imagery throughout jumps and cuts with aggression. Add to this one of the best soundtracks of 2017, a synth driven punch of energy from Oneohtrix Point Never aka Daniel Lopatin, and "Good Time" does everything it can to consume you.
Still, in a film with so much life, it's hard to find compassion with many of the characters in the film. They are all flawed and unlikable most of the time. Still, Connie is provided an inkling of heart amidst all the terrible and damaging characteristics that compose his personality. Watching Connie fly by the seat of his pants makes it hard to root for this character, mostly because of his consistent selfishness but also because he makes the worst choices. In one moment he seems like a caring brother and the next he abandons the familial bond, in another he talks with care for his girlfriend and the next he manipulates her feelings for his own devices, it's consistently frustrating. Nick is the pawn in the whole game, watching him cling to the prospect that Connie will do something to help him is heartbreaking at times. Though in these moments, when Connie actual shows some heart, the viewer is given a glimmer of hope, a glimmer of redemption that may be on the horizon.
The composition of Connie is fascinating, part of the reason the film remains so interesting and engaging is because of Mr. Pattinson's energetic yet poised performance. The actor is proving himself capable of doing a variety of complicated things in film, look no further than David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" and David Michod's "Rover" for examples. Mr. Pattinson, still a striking movie star even underneath the unkept hair and dirty fingernails, is doing his best to make you forget about the sparkling vampire from the "Twilight" series.
"Good Time", in all its pulsing and vibrant life, is a story about brotherhood. You can feel this aspect from the first moments in the film. Though it's hard to support these characters, the directing Safdie siblings work to compose this bond and then utilize it to exploit the lengths that brotherhood will take you after you rob a bank, find a bottle of LSD, and end up in an amusement park all in one night.
4.00 out of 5.00