After a bank robbery goes wrong and his mentally handicapped brother Nick (Benny Safdie) is caught and imprisoned, Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) has a hellish night doing everything he can to get him free.
Driven by an obsessive need to set Nick free, Connie uses everything from charm, to violence, to sheer luck, pushing on through the night to evade capture and find a way to make enough money for his brother’s bail.
Directed by (and starring one of) the Safdie brothers, Good Time is a frenetic, grimy rollercoaster of a movie exploring the lengths a desperate man will go to in order to protect his brother.
This is the latest in Robert Pattinson’s highly interesting career since his Twilight days. As with his ex co-star Kristen Stewart, Pattinson seems to be actively choosing roles you wouldn’t have expected, following a passion for creative indie movies rather than more box office blockbusters.
His performance in this is outstanding; right out of the gates he’s fighting against the tortured, strong-and-silent type you might imagine him to embody. Connie is all gangly and greasy and verging on manic at times, able to get by on pure charm and improvisation to wangle himself out of all kinds of situations, and you can sense the drive he has to look after his brother – even if it’s misguided. His American accent is on the nose, too.
Co-director Benny Safdie also does an extraordinary job in not a lot of screen time to make Nick a tender, sympathetic character. Sequences featuring him mark both the beginning and end of the film, and are what add the heartbeat to the story.
With the directors also being siblings, it seems like Good Time is somewhat of an ode to brotherhood. Josh and Benny Safdie grew up in New York, and have been capturing life on film since they were youngsters. Their style tends to lean towards low budget realism, blending directorial vision with street actors.
The use of close up camera shots locked in around the actors’ faces creates a feeling of tense claustrophobia, and your stress level rises as Connie’s does. Everything is doused in a neon glow, giving an 80s vibe that gels perfectly with the synthy thrums of the soundtrack – it’s almost non-stop beats keep up the pace as well as the adrenaline levels.
There are some weaker moments; a kind of creepy element to the storyline that sees Connie using a teenage girl in order to hide his identity, the use of racial stereotypes to help him evade the police and the flashback of a fellow criminal that goes on that bit too long.
The final act also leads an inevitable climax that feels very under played – it loses a lot of impact and could have been much more gripping if the Safdies had took a different approach in how they shot it.
Good Time gets 4 stars – this film is 100 minutes of prickling, pulsating crime action, with engrossing performances and enticing aesthetics. A thrill ride that does exactly what it says on the tin, though how ‘good’ a time the characters are having is certainly up for debate.
Treat yourself to the trailer below. Good Time is streaming on Netflix at time of publishing, or you can own it on DVD here.