Good Time (2017)

There’s always dark comedy and human pathos round the corner in this grungy stab at the heist-thriller, backed by a pulsating electronic-synth score and a frantic performance by Pattinson. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Josh & Benny Safdie
2017 | USA | Crime/Drama/Thriller | 101 mins | 2.35:1 | English
M18 (passed clean) for language throughout, violence, drug use and sexual content

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Buddy Duress, Barkhad Abdi
Plot: After a heist goes awry, a bank robber spends a night trying to free his mentally handicapped brother from being sent to Riker’s Island prison.
Awards: Won Soundtrack Award & Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes)
International Sales: Memento Films (SG: Anticipate Pictures)

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Tight
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: The Arts House
First Published: 20 Feb 2018
Spoilers: No

While it took Kristen Stewart till Personal Shopper (2016) to shake off the Bella dust and be regarded seriously as an actress, her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson has the Safdie brothers to thank for doing the exact same thing. 

You will never see Pattinson in the same light after Good Time—he gives his finest performance to date, capturing the frantic nature of his character, Connie, who after a bank robbery gone wrong, must attempt to find ten grand to bail out his mentally-ill brother before he is sent to the infamous Riker’s Island prison.

At once a race-against-time thriller and an exercise in subverting genre tropes, Good Time sees Josh and Benny Safdie (the latter playing Connie’s brother) in fine form delivering a suspense-laden work that sprints—and strolls—to its own beat. 

Amid the kinetic cat-and-mouse chases, there’s always dark comedy and human pathos round the corner, giving the film dramatic weight in the least expected moments. 

Connie’s relationship with his brother is borne out of unconditional love; he senses a higher purpose, that he must salvage what’s left of his family before the society—in its merciless intent—land them an irreversible blow.

“Is your brother okay?”

Good Time is as much a film about the consequences of social injustice as it is an evocation of the brutal reality of lowly thug lives.  In an endless cycle of always being one step ahead for his brother, but two steps behind the law, Connie’s relentless drive to carve out something tangible to hold on is what gives the picture its character-driven momentum. 

On the other hand, the pulsating electronic-synth soundtrack, scored by Oneohtrix Point Never, pushes the movie forward sensorially, recalling the likes of how Cliff Martinez’s music has shaped the soundscapes of, for example, the recent films of Nicolas Winding Refn. 

The Safdies’ visual style for Good Time is grungy, and sometimes, even hallucinogenic, with neon lights and dingy settings a favourite.  A remarkable sequence involves a night-time trespass into an empty amusement park—watch how the Safdies create unnerving tension through image and music. 

“Good time” often refers to the reduction of a prison sentence due to good behaviour, but what the characters desperately need is good luck.

Grade: B+




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