"I think something very important is happening and it's deeply connected to my purpose"
After a bank robbery gone wrong, a young man (Robert Pattinson), spends his night desperately trying to find $10,000 to post bail for his mentally handicapped brother (Ben Safdie) who’s been arrested.
Good Time is the newest film from the Safide Brothers, Ben and Josh, who've made a name for themselves in the last few years with their intense and striking indie films and shorts (most notably Heaven Knows What from 2014). With their latest the pair have begun their transition to the big leagues with a film that perfectly blends a more mainstream sensibility with their rugged indie style. If you’re looking for a comparison to draw, it could be said that Good Time is the Safdie’s Mean Streets.
It’s a whirlwind of a film that never lets you go, building and building with each scene as Pattinson’s character, Connie, falls further down the rabbit hole as his search goes on. The film takes place over the course of only one night which gives the narrative an immediacy, helping with the audiences overall connection to the film. If the events were protracted over the course or days, weeks or months it wouldn’t work, it would make the character less engaging and his motivations muddled, heightening his own self-interest.
Nothing Connie does as a character makes him likeable or redeemable. He’s a seemingly self-centred, horrible person who exploits those around him for his own gains. However the film very cleverly sets up in its first scenes that he’s really not. While it may continually seem like Connie’s motivations are his own self-interest the film constantly reminds you that he’s doing all of this for his brother (even the robbery that’s the catalyst for it all). It's because of his motivations you find yourself rooting for him. The aim of the character, and the film itself, is to find the money to save his brother who, in his mind, can’t save himself and because of this you can’t help but connect with this guy and his twisted journey.
Good Time is reminiscent of the gritty alt films that came out of the US in the late 60s and early 70s. With it’s mix of dark aesthetics and compassionate, complex themes I couldn’t help but think of films like Midnight Cowboy. It's full of uncomfortable close-ups and confronting handheld photography, but despite the dirtiness that populates it’s exterior the interior is all heart. There’s a genuine love and compassion behind the narrative which makes it endless compelling
Robert Pattinson delivers the performance of his career. The power her wields over the audience is a testament to his abilities as her perfectly manipulates both us and the other characters within the film for his (and his brothers) benefit. It’s a performance that’s complex and incredibly raw, finally solidifying Pattinson as truly unique performer. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi stand out in minor supporting roles as everybody gives their all for the film. However it’s co-director, editor and sound recordist Ben Safdie who has the breakout performance in the film as Nick, Connie’s brother. In the little screen time he has he’s so perfectly able to convey the love and emotion that the brothers share for each other, implanting a thought that never leaves your mind as the film progresses.
It feels almost cliché to say that the score was like another character in the film, but in this case it’s true. Electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never won the Soundtrack Award for best composer at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his work on the film. It’s not a sweeping score but instead very subtle, it acts as a driving force that helps propel the film, almost like a ticking clock or a heartbeat. While it’s reminiscent of Vangelis or Tangerine Dream, Oneohtrix has managed to infuse the same love and compassion that the characters exude into his tones, making it something truly transcendent.
Good Time could be viewed as a glitzy, neon lit crime film akin to something like a Nicolas Winding Refn film, but instead the Safdie Brothers have created something completely unique. It’s a film that, while being gritty, has so much heart behind it that that you can’t help but become caught up in it’s madness.
Reviewed by Chris Swan