Good Time Review

Robert Pattinson continues to distance himself from his teen heartthrob image with this scruffy B-movie. His loser character takes the audience on a deranged funhouse ride through corners of New York that are so lurid that the movie feels like it was made in the early 1980s, especially with its electronic score by Oneohtrix Point Never. And while it all feels a little too constructed to be believable, the film is superbly gripping. And even a bit moving.

Pattinson plays Connie, a low-life criminal who confidently robs a Brooklyn bank with his mentally simple brother Nick (played by Benny Safdie, who also directed the film with his brother Josh). As they flee, Connie gets away, but Nick is arrested. In need of cash to pay Nick’s bail, Connie looks up his rather unstable friend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh), but she turns out to be a dead end. So he decides to break Nick out of jail. While working out this plan, he meets Ray (Buddy Duress), a junkie coming down from a bad trip, and 16-year-old Crystal (Taliah Webster). And both of them give Connie a new idea.

Yes, this is the kind of film that moves from one chaotic set-piece to the next with a wonderful volatility that makes it feel fresh and spontaneous. And the Safdie brothers direct it in a remarkably full-on style, mixing close-up camerawork with dramatic God’s eye aerial shots. Every scene is awash in bright colour, and each actor delivers a performance that’s physically kinetic and emotionally raw. None of these people are very easy to sympathise with, but they’re so funny and unpredictable that we can’t look away. Pattinson has never been this frantic before, and he’s terrific as a smart guy with no common sense. He’s the kind of guy who thinks that his next plan will finally be the one that works, even though it clearly won’t.

The supporting cast is solid around him, from Duress’ likeable idiot to Barkhad Abdi as a security guard who underestimates Connie’s desperation. Leigh may be a bit over the top as a hot mess, but Safdie superbly underplays Nick. Basically, everyone in this story is out if his or her depth, mainly because the screenwriters have put them there. It never feels terribly organic, but it is consistently entertaining, even as it gets increasingly violent. And the driving theme of brotherly love gives the film an unexpected emotional soul.