DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Good Time

Director - Ben and Josh Safdie - 2017

"Filthy genius movie"
Robert Pattinson plays a scruffy rogue in a crime film SO DIRTY and GRIPPING that it will leave the streets feeling boring and dim after you have left the cinema - from the London Film Festival

New York’s long association with the crime film is as old as cinema itself. From film noir to The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971) and obviously to Martin Scorsese, the city’s mesmeric and glamorous qualities have served as poignant antithesis against a character’s base desires, involving gloomy streets filled with mafia, guns and et al. Although not as ridged as these formerly mentioned New York stories, a fresh and innovative addition to the canon is Good Time, directed by the Safdie Brothers (Josh and Bennie). Holding a greater contemporary twist over the likes of Scorsese et al, in terms of its cinematic panache, the co-directors arrange a kaleidoscopic thriller that is as tight and lean as its captivating lead, Robert Pattinson.

Working with Robert Pattinson in a role written specifically for him after seeing the brother’s previous film Heaven Knows What (2014) – a bleak examination of a young woman’s addiction to heroin – the narrative follows Connie Nikas’ (Pattinson) quest to get his mental disabled brother, Nick, out of jail before anything life-threatening happens to him. Even before the retro Good Time title appears on screen, accompanied by a heavenly synth based score, you gain an intimate understanding of both brothers and their relationship. Connie is charming and manipulative, whilst Nick, played by co director Bennie Safdie, has a constant expression of agony and helplessness.

It is in Nick’s physicality and willingness to do whatever his brother says that lands him in prison after a bank robbery, masterminded by Connie, goes south. From this point onwards, the plot is focused on one specific element; get Nick out of jail. Still, a mission with this much personal investment takes Connie on a roller coaster ride through Queens over the course of an evening. With a hint of the evocative real life filming of Victoria and a reference to the grimy streets of NY, as depicted in Sopranos et al, Good Time is a high octane cinematic ride that will leave you with your mouth wide opening- truly questioning whether you will ever see a better film all year long.

Credited in front and behind the camera, Bennie Safdie excels in an unobtrusive performance as Nick. The emotional complexity in his facial performance is held in close takes by cinematographer Sean Price Williams. Opening in such a close up is a signifier of the film’s attentions upon such a tight camera angle. Similarly, using such a technique focuses the audience’s gaze towards the minutest detail in performance, whilst drawing one further inwards of the narrative. With this extreme close up technique characteristic of the Safdie’s filmmaking, brightly light neon frames accentuate these intimate shots. Varying from all colours of the spectrum, the artistry in the lighting heightens all the cinematic elements of the mise-en-scene. Such visceral lighting charms the brain and upon leaving the cinema, the normal world will be mundane and beige.

Naturally working within the thriller/ crime genre, a certain gratuitous element seems inevitable. Apart from one or two beatings, Good Time is not sadistic or masochistic. Violence, if any, derives from the tension built in abidance. Without a single gun fired, it’s a tightly woven piece of filmic tapestry, not an arrangement of blood, smoke and viciousness.

As the manipulative Connie, Pattinson manages to create a human who produces both disgusts and sympathy; he is a natural-born saviour who has rejected the only paternal figure in his life. His ability to be whoever whenever is undoubtedly a gift. Acting up to police officers in lies that flow effortlessly from his mouth, Pattinson is effectively acting within acting. To Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) he is her affectionate toy boy. Yet, Connie only sees her as a spare credit card for Nick’s bail money and a free ride around town. In Pattinson’s ability to portray a character so invested in acting and ‘not in his own body at all’, as he told Film Comment in a recent interview, the actor transcends his charming star persona. If his supporting performance in Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet, 2017) and James Gray’s The Lost City of Z (2017) illustrated his keen eye for a good, innovative project, then Good Time marks a career-defining moment.

In Good Time, the Safdie’s create something unique, something audacious enough to have your pulse at its mercy. As the credits roll, the brotherly duo chose to let the final scene play out, complemented by Iggy Pop’s The Pure and The Damned. Flowing to a natural conclusion, a moment of poignancy lingers over the final moments. The stillness produced proves a soothing antidote after a ride through the vivid streets of Queens. As I walked out of the cinema, the streets felt boring and dimGood Time’s visceral charm lingered over me. My only thought was to immediately turn round and experience that filmic trip all over again; sadly I regret not acting upon that thought.

Good Time is showing in October as part of the 61st London Film Festival, and it will be out in cinemas across the UK in November.


"Filthy genius movie"

By Alasdair Bayman - 25-09-2017

By Alasdair Bayman - 25-09-2017

Alasdair Bayman is a recent graduate of English Literature at The University of Manchester. W...

DMovies Poll

Do/would you go to the cinema in order to watch documentaries?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

François Ozon probably doesn’t get much sleep. At [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Time flies by! DMovies was launched in February [Read More...]
American novelist Dennis Cooper’s cinematic debut feels like [Read More...]
Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the latest zombie [Read More...]
It’s 2018, and neoliberalism is steadily morphing into [Read More...]

Read More

Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese

Maysa Monção - 10-02-2017

If Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver was made today, Travis Bickle would murder burka-clad and Muslim women in general, claim Maysa Monção - the 1976 classic is out in cinemas now [Read More...]

Gimme Danger

Jim Jarmusch

Maysa Monção - 15-11-2016

Deliciously dangerous pop: Jim Jarmusch's film about Iggy Pop and the Stooges is far more than your average rockumentary; it's an ingenious, dirty and loud tribute to the artists who sum up the very essence of rock'n roll - out in cinemas on Friday [Read More...]

Six dirty picks from the London Film Festival


DMovies' team - 14-09-2017

Tickets for the largest film festival in the country go on sale today, so we decided to pick the top six dirtiest movies, which you should not miss - hurry up! [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *