Release Date: August 25th, 2017
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress
Director: Ben and Josh Safdie
Studio: Elara Pictures, Rhea Films
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Good Time, the latest flick from the Safdie brothers, is a tale of crime, family, and the lengths some are willing to go. It is also the staggeringly real portrayal of a group, a section of society, most don’t see.
Robert Pattinson plays Constantine ‘Connie’ Nikas, a crook and regular ol’ low life who means to rob a bank with his mentally handicapped younger brother Nick, played by Ben Safdie.
After a slow, deliberate opening with Nick in therapy enduring a test of his skills and language associations amongst other things, Connie pounds down the door and takes him away. His brother, his ‘protector,’ Connie doesn’t think Nick needs this whole thing. People don’t understand Nick and they don’t treat him right, in Connie’s eyes. Is he right? Of course not, they are medical professionals who are hoping to get a handle on Nick’s disability, but to Connie that means they are treating him less normal.
They get to the bank and things go sideways, as they frequently do in heists, and the rest of the film is Connie scrambling to save his brother and get gone.
In that spiral is where the bulk of Good Time takes place. Connie and Nick flee the scene of the failed robbery only to get busted, as cops unprepared to handle Nick’s handicap – as well as Nick’s inability to fully understand what is occurring – gets him caught in a chase and in jail.
Connie then moves from one failed plan to the next to get his brother out, first visiting his girlfriend(?), played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and hoping to run her mom’s credit card for bail. When this scheme doesn’t work he gets desperate, trying to break his brother out of a hospital. But things don’t go so smoothly there either, and they don’t get much better for Connie Nikas.
Robert Pattinson has fully earned his place outside of the Twilightsphere. I hope. The fact that I felt compelled to make that disclosure perhaps shows he is still on the cusp, but moving forward he shouldn’t be held to that anchor. He was great and unrecognizable in this year’s Lost City of Z and with Good Time he leads a damn fine film, carrying it entirely on his back. That’s not to say the rest of the actors were any kind of slouch. That is far from the truth.
What makes this movie so good is how very true it is. Every character is played so well, the writing so viciously real. As a person who has spent his fair share around unsavory types you might say, I can speak to this as shown in the movie.
All of our characters are from impoverished backgrounds. They all run on the ‘wrong’ side of the law, never holding down real jobs or anything of the like. To them, there is a different social hierarchy, a different set of norms that they adhere to. So when Pattinson’s Connie and Duress’ character Ray speak, they speak of their crimes openly with their ‘badness’ and disregard for the law accruing them social credit in each others’ eyes. That is so absolutely astoundingly real.
Duress, it should be mentioned, has lived a life himself and fully brought that experience into his character. A scene that exemplifies it perfectly is their take over of a security guards apartment (long story) and the delight Ray takes in the place. He wishes he could have a place so nice. An apartment of a security guard he just beat up! Ray just needs to get a real job and stop hustling drugs and he could afford such a home.
Good Time shows just how damn good a collaborative project-like film can be. My screening came with a great Q&A after the fact in which the Safdie Brothers revealed how they got started on the project, that Pattinson called them up and said he felt working with them was a part of his purpose. Brother Josh then began working on a script and elaborate character backstory in conjunction with Pattinson.
Ben Safdie’s Nick was a character they had developed for another project that wasn’t going anywhere and without him Good Time would truly feel hollow. The music is fantastically 80’s neon crime. They cobbled together these disparate but great ideas and pieces and fitted them together in magnificent manner. Good Time is a damn fine film.