Director: Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi
Runtime: 100 minutes
Boston Online Film Critics Association: Ten Best Films of the Year; International Cinephile Society Awards: Best Actor, Robert Pattinson, Prix du Jury: Ben & Joshua Safdie; Three other wins, 36 nominations.
“At once a swift, relentless chase thriller and an exhilarating mood piece that recalls the great, gritty crime dramas of Sidney Lumet and Abel Ferrara, “Good Time” is also exactly what it says it is: a thrill, a blast, a fast-acting tonic of a movie.”—Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
Much acclaim has been issued to Robert Pattinson’s performance in Good Time, the indie venture from director brothers Josh and Ben Safdie. He is indeed impressive, and the breathless thriller built around it is pretty fantastic too.
The premise is dead simple. Pattinson’s increasingly desperate hustler Connie scrambles to raise bail money for his troubled, mentally-challenged brother Nick (co-director Ben Safdie), who’s been arrested after a botched bank robbery. Connie was there too, and only got away through dumb luck.
Over the course of one frenzied night, driven by a combination of guilt and fraternal responsibility, Connie will lay waste to half a dozen lives while insisting everything he does is for the right reasons. We know right off that Good Time is an ironic title; the question is how badly things will go for all concerned.
As a genre film, Good Time is ambitious, offering layers of social and cultural commentary as Connie flails through the various strata of New York nightlife. It’s never explicitly stated, but his whiteness is clearly a factor in his interactions with people in positions of status and authority; a lot of Black characters aren’t nearly as lucky.
And as things dissolve, Pattinson gets more and more riveting, letting us see how Connie convinces himself that every new lie and impulsive betrayal is for the greater good. It’s all malarkey – and he knows it – but there’s no way he’s stopping, either.