GOOD TIME

Oh, Robert Pattinson, you’ve come so far. Remember when you were doing schlock like Twilight? I’m sure you’d like to forget, but hey, we all have to make our big break somewhere, I suppose. Just like your co-star Kristen Stewart, you’ve shown that you’re actually an actor to be reckoned with. You’re one of those actors I thought I would never take seriously, but alas, here we are, giving us one of the best lead performances of the year. 

Good Time follows Constantine “Connie” Nikas (Robert Pattinson) who lives in New York with his deaf and mentally challenged brother Nick (Ben Safdie). After a bank robbery Connie plans goes wrong, Nick ends up in prison, and Connie on the run. Obsessed with getting enough money to bail out Nick, Connie embarks on an odyssey across the city to save his brother while trying to evade the authorities.

The perfect way to describe this film is manic. It starts off mundane, such as when Connie and his friend Corey (played by a fantastically hyper Jennifer Jason Leigh) try to initially pay off the bail bondsmen with her mom’s credit card. This causes her to call her mom and have an argument over the phone, as Connie bickers with the bondsmen. While the opening scene starts off with a one take closeup as a character monologues, this where the editing and camerawork goes into a frenzy. Writers/directors Ben and Josh Safdie know when to be quiet for the character moments, and when to be chaotic when its necessary. The chaos surrounding the situation and the way the characters reacted made me incredibly uncomfortable. 

These aren’t really good people we’re watching here and that’s exemplified by the completely grungy aesthetic and tone. I felt like I was watching a low-budget flick from the 80’s due to the very grainy film cinematography and vibrant low-level lighting. It’s gross, but looks great at the same time, with terrific use of color. For example, I initially thought the poster for this was incredibly ugly, but after now seeing the film, it perfectly captures it. It’s off putting and gross looking, but it catches your attention and has a point behind it. A catchy and energetic synth score further amplifies the feeling of watching a true, blue genre picture. One that’s not afraid to tell a story, but get dirty and gritty with it, too. The ugly look didn’t always work for me, but hey, this is supposed to be New York City, right? 

As Connie embarks on his quest, whenever he thinks he’s finally one step ahead, something happens that sets him three steps back. It’s all his own fault, though. He’s irrational and emotional, with no real plan in sight, and is just going along with the situation and doing what he thinks is the best course of action.  Pattinson is incredible here, showing fantastic range from displaying grief in a quiet subtlety to violent outbursts. He commands every scene, making his character come off as completely believable in his crazy intentions. His motivation is a bit murky at first, and I could have used some more development between him and his brother, but you still understand his character. He makes many morally questionable and bizarre decisions along the way, but it just shows what he’ll do to achieve his goal and how much this is affecting his mind. You feel like you’re losing your sanity along with him as everything just continues to go wrong. It’s like a bad acid trip that just gets worse and worse, with no escape in sight. 

But alas, every trip has its end and when Good Time was over, I was able to reflect that I didn’t just see an incredibly stylish genre film, but an exploration of emotionally unstable characters and how they handle their difficult situations. I was engrossed by the story and characters, but scratching my head and questioning what I was seeing at the same time. Good Time is indeed a good time. 

 9/10

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