You’re the only one who’s going to have a good time with Good Time. This stylish and energised thriller from Ben and Josh Safdie stars Robert Pattinson as Connie, a petty criminal and devoted brother, in one of his best roles to date (Pattinson has always been good, don’t listen to the haters). Good Time is intermittently bleak and neon, like a dreamlike section of an LSD trip, and will make you go “oh, people like this actually exist”.
The film opens with Nick, a young man (played by co-director Ben Safdie) with learning difficulties being interviewed by who appears to be a mental health care professional before being either abruptly rescued or kidnapped, whichever way you look at it, by his brother Connie (Robert Pattinson). The bond and the love between them is immediately apparent and visceral. They both then rob a bank, with Connie getting away and Nick being arrested and then hospitalised. The rest of the movie plays out as Connie tries to find a way to free Nick from Rikers jail, rightly concerned something horrible may happen to him.
Pattinson is transformed as Connie, devoid of empathy for anyone except his brother he manipulates his way through the city night, accompanied by a dizzying electronic score from Daniel Lopatin. Connie tears his way through the city chasing cash, drugs, people, trying desperately to free his brother, there could almost be something overtly political in the ways in which he interacts with the people he encounters and does wrong by. Connie’s pathetic older girlfriend (the fantastic Jennifer Jason Leigh), a security guard (Barkhad Abdi from Captain Phillips), an elderly Haitian immigrant and her granddaughter are all used and tossed aside by throughout the film. You don’t feel completely disconnected from him though, even though most of the things he does are pretty terrible, you feel for him, and this is partly what makes the film so gripping, that you can maintain interest and sympathy for a protagonist so deceptive.
Good Time will remind you of other films where young people are involved in questionable things in a city in a short space of time, specifically Larry Clark’s Kids, and Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine. There’s a unique energy to these movies, an intensity to the feeling of these almost insane people rushing around a city and interacting with the “normal” people around them. You feel sorry for Connie, but also disgusted by a lot of his behaviour, but the film isn’t interested in your moral judgement, merely with gripping you from the opening scene and into the credits rolling.
Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Writers: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh