Written by: Ronald Bronstein & Josh Safdie
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Lennice Webster, Barkhad Abdi
As Dom Toretto would tell you, nothing matters more than family and everything occurring in Good Time shows just how far one brother is willing to go for the other. Complete madness in the best of ways and never allowing the audience to feel at ease, this feature truly raises the profile of two spectacular filmmakers and continues the rightful appreciation of an underrated lead actor.
In hopes to take care of his developmentally disabled brother for the foreseeable future, Connie (Robert Pattinson) robs a bank with said brother. However, when complications arise where the brother lands in police custody, Connie must find a way to set him free, retain the money and get out of dodge. He will do whatever it takes to do it, like whatever it takes, seriously.
Neverending stress has become the trademark for Josh and Benny Safdie and while they got off to a decent start in their first two features, they truly take off in Good Time. From the first frame, this film takes right off with displaying these two brothers and what Connie wants to do to ensure his brother will be okay. Not much context gets provided throughout the feature, as it comes together through contextual conversations, but one thing remains clear: Connie is a terrible person. It truly begs the question of how much an audience member can sympathize with someone so caring for a sibling. Connie makes it quite easy because the despicable things he does in this feature cross the proverbial line on more than one occasion.
The frantic nature of this movie allows it to thrive and feel wholly unique in its approach as narratively it does not contain many complexities. Narratively, it’s simply about one brother trying to get another brother out of police custody but the entertainment comes from the journey, and boy does it get very wild. It comes as a wonderful duet from the directing duo and the lead actor, who work in perfect harmony to establish this character and put him through the wringer. The Safdies purposefully fixate the camera close to Connie’s face throughout the story. Through all of the nonsense, he partakes in we’re with him physically even if we want to tap out at several different points. The first thing we see at all of the different circumstances he’s involved in is his reaction, which further makes this journey so stressful.
Connie’s noble task constantly clashes with the means he utilizes to achieve them, which makes him the ultimate villain. Seeing as we see everything through his eyes, it becomes difficult to understand the truth. He obviously cannot be considered a reliable narrator for what occurs and everything he states begins to crumble as reality sets in. Any integrity we have believed him to have at the beginning comes crashing down. Truly a despicable character, but he undoubtedly becomes someone fascinating to follow because the man has some strong persistence in his quest. I can only wish to have the determination Connie has for helping his brother, which makes it all just a much sadder affair.
The other side of this duet comes from the performance of Robert Pattinson. An actor maligned because of his involvement in the Twilight films, a perception arose of him not being able to act. Ever since finishing out that series the man went on a tear and if anyone watches Good Time and does not apologize for misjudging this man’s incredible talent needs to have a talking to. He goes completely unhinged in this role and completely owns it in a way that honestly became a bit concerning. He sells this scumbag demeanor so well that he absolutely disappeared into it. With his level of star power and having the ability to let me forget he’s on screen giving this particular performance just further speaks to how much he absolutely shreds in this role. Complete and utter redemption and he’s only getting better.
In a visual sense, this film truly sells it being an acid trip with the drug being an important plot point of the story as well. Different moments, such as the amusement park, allows the lighting to alienate and specify specific features of Connie and what he’s willing to do when others are around and what can be witnessed. From the piercing blandness of the hospital fluorescent lights to the illumination of black lights, we see Connie in different angles and orientations to see this man for his true identity and none of it proves to be pretty.
End credits provide the only reprieve from the craziness of Good Time. Right from the beginning, it takes the audience on quite the ride, and while a happy ending just never appears to be in the cards, wherever the story lands we follow this despicable human through it all. Noble intentions but terrible actions create this disorienting experience with no one to truly root for and it all works as a spectacular piece of cinema anyway. Kudos to all involved.