Starring: Robert Pattinson, Ben Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi
Director: Ben and Josh Safdie
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Rating: R for the Vices of a Night in the City
Release Date: August 11, 2017 (Limited)
How far would you go for a better life for yourself and your brother? If said brother is mentally handicapped and you are the lead character in a crime-on-the-streets movie, then chances are the answer is “pretty far.” Ergo, there is no surprise about the general forces that pushes Good Time along, but the details are quite unpredictable.
The majority of the plot follows Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) in a desperate night through Queens as he attempts to correct his mistakes and bust his brother Nick (co-director Ben Safdie) out of jail following a botched bank robbery. He first attempts to cover the bail money by turning to a friend/lover (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is way too old for him and for her own lack of emotional maturity. But another snag pops up when it is revealed that Nick is under police supervision in the hospital. Connie plows forward with his improvisation, but it becomes more and more obvious that he is not going to pull off his scheme, what with law enforcement always nearby and the caprices of fate constantly messing with him. It all adds up to a night of drugs, mistaken identity, and an empty amusement park in a land where cliché need not apply.
The joys of Good Time – and its biggest weakness – are aesthetic. The Safdie brothers exclusively favor extreme close-ups for conversations and kinetic camera movement when characters go from here to there. The shot selection, combined with the grainy digital cinematography and bass-heavy synth score, create a sensorially overwhelming experience that too few films attempt. The photography does get into a bit of trouble whenever the action moves into especially dark corners, rendering it nearly impossible to make out anything that is happening. That is possibly intentional, but it is not advisable. But in a film with this much clarity and consistency of vision, that is only a minor quibble.
Good Time is Recommended If You Like: Robert Pattinson’s auteur collaborations, Miami Vice, The economic desperation of Don’t Breathe
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Dye Packs