Motivated by an almost ferocious love for his intellectually disabled brother, Nick, and an explosive mix of desperation and thirst for a better life, the abrasive and fledgling criminal, Connie, involves his sibling in an ill-conceived bank robbery that swears to be a quick and easy job. Instead, things go utterly wrong, and Nick will wind up in Rikers Island after one unanticipated complication, forcing the desperate but determined Connie to embark on a nightmarish, no-holds-barred quest to bail Nick out. Inevitably, over the course of a long and violent night, Connie will go to great lengths to save Nick from a cruel fate, doomed, however, to do more harm than good. Is it all heading somewhere? (source)
I think it’s time that everyone just forgot about Twilight. Robert Pattinson is an absolute gem, and films like this are proof. Good Time is a gritty crime thriller that speaks not only to the American Dream™, where two brothers can possibly maybe have the potential to exist in harmony free from complex family dynamics with all the cash they can grab from a bank robbery; it also speaks to the idea of brotherly love and how far one might go to save their kin from harm. Its story is told well, and performed spectacularly by all involved. Of course, Robert Pattinson is the highlight as Connie Nikas, but performances by Jennifer Jason Leigh as his whiny and privileged older girlfriend, and Barkhad Abdi as a security guard with really bad luck, are also standouts. Ben Safdie, as Nick Nikas, Connie’s younger intellectually disabled brother gives a pretty amazing performance also.
In a sense, Good Time recalls the neon aesthetic of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives (2013), but with a 100% better story. The direction by Ben and Josh Safie (AKA The Safdie Brothers) is hypnotic, and shots are mostly made up of tight frames on the characters, giving the film an intense, claustrophobic and unpredictable feel. There are some supremely trippy sequences that take place in a fun park that are also completely creepy and nightmarish. The cinematography by Sean Price Williams is gorgeous. The film also plays host to one of the better vaporwave style scores I’ve heard this side of the search function on Soundcloud. Creatively, Good Time is a delight.
When watching the film, one can’t shake the feeling that there’s some warmth underneath the surface of its brutality and frenetic nature. What humanises Connie, despite his criminal behaviour, is his love and devotion for his brother, Nick. Even though Connie does some detestable (and frankly, sometimes gross) things in this film, there is always the love he shows towards his brother that brings him back down to earth and grounds his purpose within the context of unpredictable circumstances and curveballs. The story manages a delicate balance between wanting Connie and his brother to be together again and to live the perfect life with one another, versus identifying that Connie is actually a pretty bad guy who should face some consequences at some point. Ultimately, Good Time isn’t just a crazy ride of a crime film, it’s a story of brotherly love within the context of a surreal crisis, and it keeps this balance nicely.
Good Time is an intensive and unrelenting crime thriller that will make you feel as if you’re stuck inside of the drama, through its beautiful direction and cinematography. The events of the story take place over the course of one night, but it feels like a much longer time; and across this time, it feels like we get to know our protagonists pretty well. We know that Connie is a man who is dedicated to his brother, who will do anything for him. In this way, the events of the film are somewhat tragic. The ride that you’re on when watching this film is intense and messy, but it’s one of pure, desperate humanity.
Watch the trailer here.