Listed as a drama, Good Time, the new film directed by the Safdie Brothers, feels more like a dark comedy at times within the context of real world New York as told by Scorsese. Does that sound like an odd mash up? Well, that would be Good Time.
Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) is a low level con man whose brother Nick (Benny Safdie) is mentally challenged. So of course, Connie takes Nick to be his back up on a bank heist. To no one’s surprise, the heist goes wrong, and Nick winds up caught and sent to Ryker’s Island. Nick goes about trying to get the money to post his brother’s bond before anything else can happen to him.
Robert Pattinson is great as Connie. He is extremely unlikable of a character that I spent the whole film hoping would be caught, but still wishing the police would not catch him. He created such an uncomfortable feeling within me, never sure just what he might do. The sole redeeming quality in this character was his feelings for his brother Nick, which feels as if it is the only sincere feelings he has.
Connie is shown to be a somewhat intelligent person, but he consistently does remarkably stupid things. It is as if he was a terrible storm that would blow through other character’s lives leaving them worse off than before. And yet you don’t hate the guy. Part of it is the desperation with which he is trying to do the one good thing he can, and that is to help Nick. The Safdie brothers constantly use close ups to help create that manic feeling in Connie and portraying it to the audience. Despite how much of a jerk Connie is, you can’t help but follow him, and, despite your best intentions, even feel for him.
There were some other interesting performances in the film. Co-director Benny Safdie is really good as Nick, despite lacking a ton of screen time. We do get a slight mention of why Nick is in therapy (as shown in the movie’s first scene), but it is not expanded upon. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Corey, Connie’s girlfriend/next mark. Barkhad Abdi has a cameo as a security guard whose life gets flipped over by Connie. Buddy Duress is Ray, the acid-taking, ex-con trying to avoid being sent back to jail.
It is kind of fun watching these crooks do so many stupid things. Connie is already in trouble, but he then digs himself deeper and deeper with each passing minute as he tries to help his brother out. There are no characters here to like. All of them are rotten people. Even Nick is anything but a likeable character. Seeing these unlikable characters placed into these awkward positions is one of the best parts of this movie.
The film is very grimy. You see the worst of life in New York, with so many dirty and lowlife people and locales. The use of neon light helps to create that mood during the film, which included a very enjoyable section in an amusement park.
I had no idea what Good Time was before I went into it, and I was happy that I didn’t know. Robert Pattinson has certainly come a long way since Edward in Twilight. He knocks this role totally out of the park and he deserves credit for overcoming the type casting of the twinkling vampire. Good Time was a surprisingly good time.