Yeah, I know, I’m a little late aboard the Safdie Brothers train.
After having put off both Uncut Gems and Good Time for far too long, I finally delved in, and honestly, I’m 100% sold.
Good Time tells the story of a bank robber (Robert Pattinson) who is trying to free his disabled brother (Benny Safdie) from police custody. The events of the film mostly take place over one night, and chronicle Connie’s frantic attempts to elude the police and rescue his brother.
The premise is simple enough, sure – but it’s what the Safdie Brothers do with it that makes it so intensely magnetic. Pattinson was set to star from the off after reaching out to the brothers, and the role of Connie was written specifically for him. Despite the actor’s London roots, he immersed himself so fully in life in New York that his accent, his look and his general attitude completely transform him – both in the film and in our collective minds – from the sparkly vampire boy he once was into something deep and dark and unpleasantly gritty.
I’ll try my hardest not to gush too much over Pattinson’s performance – just know that it’s possibly the most mesmerising piece of acting I’ve ever seen – but honestly, Good Time has a general air of authenticity. Having been filmed on busy New York streets; with real police and real criminals in the cast, genuine New Yorkers wandering obliviously in the background, Good Time possesses the otherworldly misfit charm of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere boiled down into real world terms then spat back out into the pulp of the Big Apple.
Despite Connie’s obvious delusions and questionable choices, there’s a rock solid story beneath it all – every character’s motivations are clear and logical (at least, as logical as you’d expect), every action leading the story down a path that you might not have expected, but will easily find yourself swept up in.
There’s a sort of neon fever dream quality to the film, all brought to life by a cast of unlikely misfit heroes, with a solid, beating heart beneath it all punctuated by the film’s vivid, tensely energising score.
There’s a lot to unpack, if you’re looking to, but on the surface, Good Time is a dark and tragic piece of storytelling – a calamity of errors as a criminal frantically maintains his futile, hopeless thrashing against a system in which he had no place.
My only genuine criticism of the film is that it loses much of its momentum at the end of its second act, slowing practically to a crawl while it sets about resolving and reframing itself – although even this works in its favour in some ways, with Connie regrouping and reassessing his approach at the same time.
I really can’t recommend Good Time enough – whether you’re a fan of crime thrillers, capers, or dark comedies, a discerning cinema enthusiast or just looking for something to kill a couple of hours, Good Time will give you an experience that you’re not likely to regret.
Summary: Good Time is an unrelenting force of tension and discomfort, but you won’t want to look away. From its visuals to its score, its writing to its acting and its cinematography, Good Time is exactly that, wherever you look.
Highlight: The hospital scene in particular is an exercise in balancing on the edge of your seat, but the biggest highlight is Pattinson’s powerhouse performance as the nervy, twitchy, yet still effortlessly confident and charismatic Connie.