Film Review: GOOD TIME (USA 2017 ) ****

GOOD TIMEA bank robber finds himself unable to evade those who are looking for him.

Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Writers: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Taliah Webster

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
GOOD TIME features Robert Pattinson in the role of bank robber unable to display love for his brother that will have critics screaming that Pattinson can act.

Though the film is called GOOD TIME, no one in the film appears to having one at any point. The film begins with Nick (Ben Safdie) under psychiatric treatment before his brother Connie (Robert Pattinson) takes him on a botched bank robbery where he is arrested and put into hospital after running through a glass door. Connie tries to spring Nick out but takes another felon, Ray instead.

The scene where Ray, already half beaten up with his face covered in bandages, scales a high fence, finally falling to the other side hurting his bad shoulder even more, best describes the entire film. Intense, f***ed-up and painful to watch! But Ben and Safdie’s film is a minor miracle, already garnering accolades of praises after Cannes, in the desperate journey of Constantine “Connie” Nikas (Robert Pattinson) in trying to right a wrong.

It is interesting to note that at one point in the film – Connie’s somewhat mentally challenged brother has been replaced by Ray, the wrong guy Connie springs out of the hospital. Not only do the two look somewhat alike, but if the film had gone on with the brother instead of Ray, not much would have changed and the film could have resulted in the same sorry outcome. The only difference in the plot would be the bottle of acid that Ray came up with. This is a bromance that has gone totally wrong, and one in which Connie wants to show love towards his brother or to Ray for that matter, but is unable to do so.

The directors are fond of close-ups, with the bank robbery shot mainly with close ups without the camera moving back at all to show what the rest of the customers at the bank are doing. The close-ups of the faces, often revealing the film’s characters in trouble, heightens the intensity of the film.

‘Oneohtrix Point Never’ won the Cannes soundtrack award in creating a one-of-a-kind soundtrack containing in many parts, a screeching metallic sound that is as unnerving as the film’s plot. The film also features an original song.

Pattinson delivers what might be the best performance of his career, as the edgy bank robber trying to help spring his brother while keeping himself out of the law’s reach. Jennifer Jason Leigh has a small role as Corey and one wishes there would be more of her. Co-director Ben Safdie whom plays the brother and Buddy Duress as Ray are equally good but the small role by Barkhad Abdi as the poor amusement park security caught in the crossfire deserves mention. Abdi can be best remembered for his role as the pirate in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

The film shifts focus between Connie and his brother. At the film’s start and end, the camera is on Nick and what is happening to him. While the majority of the film switches and stays with Connie, the film oddly leaves out what has happened to him after his arrest.

The film is bookended by Nick in his prison psychiatric sessions. The film also questions the effectiveness of the prison system is rehabilitating criminals who are not all there mentally. The film’s most disturbing segment is the prison scene where Nick is beaten up for changing the TV channel while another fight breaks two between two black inmates.

Ben and Josh Safdie is to be commended in their absorbing, fresh and exciting caper movie that captures the seediness and desperation of NYC street life.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVyGCxHZ_Ko
 

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