There was no danger of falling asleep during Good Time, and the appraisal is
blessedly easy to make. The Safdie brothers have crafted a super-charged
thriller that thrives on unpredictability and left-field turns. It’s a full
headlong plunge into the New York night, and it shows that finally – finally! –
someone has found a proper use for Robert Pattinson.
Pattinson plays Connie, a slimeball dirtbag and all-round
waster with one redeeming feature and one talent. The former is a devotion to
his lumbering and mentally-handicapped brother Nick; the latter is an ability
to lie without hesitation or compunction. The lying takes a while to emerge –
but the devotion (however compromised) is in evidence from the first scene,
with Connie misguidedly wrenching poor Nick out of a therapy session to help
him rob a bank.
The robbery goes pear-shaped, as robberies are wont to do,
and Nick is arrested. Due to his handicap he has a good chance of getting out
on bail, but Connie has to raise an extra $10,000 on top of the
money he made from the heist. So begins a long, surreal night that takes Connie
on a desperate journey around the neon-lit borough of Queens.
The set-up sounds unoriginal, a contemporary take on Of Mice and Men by way of last year’s Hell or High Water, but any sense of
déjà vu soon dissipates. The Safdies give a strong sense that they were making
up the plot as they went along, but it’s an impression belied by how they’re
always in control of their material. The story only feels this way because
Connie himself has a wild improvisatory attitude to life. It’s his audacity and
cunning that keeps Good Time from
following a familiar path.
The role could so easily have felt like a disguise for
Pattinson, a way for the Twilight and
Harry Potter actor to gain
credibility under a greasy mop of hair and a seedy goatee. But while we’re not
the best people to check if his Noo Yoikah accent is credible, the performance
of a dishonest man is undeniable and uncomfortable, and so subtle that it takes
while to realise Connie is lying to himself – about his motives and his
goodness – as well as to other people.
Even after the surprises of the plot are known (we’re not
revealing anything here – it’s not about the twists, exactly, but the turns), Good Time will be worth watching again for Pattinson. More than any
other actor, he has managed to do away with his former heart-throb status,
chopping it up and throwing the pieces into the Hudson.
Everything about this grimy genre flick demonstrates a wicked film-making talent. Thrillers don’t get much better. You get the impression that the Safdie brothers called their film Good Time because they knew a better one wasn’t going to be had at Cannes. They were right.
|What||Good Time film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
03 Nov 17 – 03 Jan 18, Times vary
|Price||£Determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|