***1/2 (out of 5)
August 25, 2017
Robert Pattinson as CONSTANCE “CONNIE” NIKAS
Jennifer Jason Leigh as COREY
Ben Safdie as NICK NIKAS
Barkhad Abdi as DASH
Buddy Duress as RAY
Taliah Webster as CRYSTAL
Directed by: The Safdie Brothers
BY KEVIN CARR
I was explaining the concept behind the film “Good Time” to a radio host I talk to each week about movies, and he said that it sounded like the characters were some of the bizarre train wrecks you’d run into at a Wal-Mart in the middle of the night. That idea was both illuminating to me and also wholly depressing.
It was illuminating because it perfectly describes the characters that popular this film. They’re not particularly nice people, but they’re strangely compelling. It makes you wonder what were the series of bad decisions that led them to be walking around Wal-Mart in the middle of the night wearing only one flip-flop, a jacket with no shirt, and chewing on the antenna of a 90s-era flip phone.
The statement was wholly depressing to me because this guy managed to encapsulate the entire movie into a single though while I’m still rambling into my third paragraph of my review.
“Good Time” tells the story of a pair of brothers who are often in trouble with the law. Nick (Ben Safdie) has some mental deficiencies, and his brother Connie (Robert Pattinson) tries to take care of him. However, some of Connie’s plans involve robbing a bank, which leads to Nick getting arrested. After Nick is beaten up in jail, Connie spends the night trying to scare up $10,000 in bail money to save his brother.
The story is nothing more than a string of bad decisions by both Connie and Nick, though Nick gets a bit of a pass because he essentially does whatever his brother tells him. However, Connie is such a terrible role model and surrogate parent that even his best intentions leave them in wore straits than they were originally. So while his meaning is good, he is one of the worst people to be in charge of Nick. In a strange way, even withstanding a severe jail beating, getting away from Connie is the best thing that can happen to him.
We’ve all known someone who makes such terrible decisions for themselves and those around them that they’d be better off if they just locked themselves in a room for a year or two. It’s never entertaining to watch that play out in real life. However, as the spine of this movie, this arc makes it an intriguing film.
The Safdie Brothers direct the movie with an energy rarely seen – and even more rarely sustained – in a movie like this. Too often these types of films degenerate into boredom or uneasy-to-watch violence. “Good Time” swerves close to those moments a few times, but overall it brings the viewer out of the movie unscathed. In a way, this makes “Good Time” an exhilarating movie to watch because of the drive and energy the Safdie Brothers bring to the screen.
Of course, the bulk of the film, from an acting perspective, is placed on the shoulders of Robert Pattinson. He is best known for his godawful performances as Edward the sparkling vampire from the wretched “Twilight” movies. However, like co-star and estranged main squeeze, he has been working these past several years to reestablish his street cred as an actor.
Pattinson delivers one of his best post-“Twilight” performances, and he manages to disappear into the character and not leave us thinking about sparkly vampires (or any of the other roles he’s had in the past). He also does a fine job letting us feel some empathy for Connie without actually being on his side. That’s a fine line to walk in terms of performance.
I wouldn’t say that “Good Time” is literally a good time, but it is an interesting movie to watch and worth checking out for something a little different.