It’s kind of ironic the title being Good Time because Connie seems to be having anything but, in the Safdie brother’s latest flick. I knew little of this latest offering, so did not know what to expect other than Robert Pattinson at the helm.
And it has a curious opening, as the film focuses on Nick Nikas (Ben Safdie, one half of the directors) receiving treatment for his mental handicap. But as the camera focuses on the silent Nick, who seems to be very reserved with his therapist, he begins to cry as he tells a story about a frying pan and his grandmother.
Ben Safdie plays this to perfection, because although he doesn’t actually communicate a great deal, his presence of the character really shines through to a great degree. His brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson) enters the room and shows a complete disregard for the treatment and accuses the therapist of making Nick cry and leaves abruptly with Nick.
Their relationship is an intimate one, as Connie believes Nick doesn’t require this and that he can survive with him, but the relationships around them are not so close-knit. Where Nick holds a relationship with their grandmother, Connie’s is completely fractured, as we learn she holds a restraining order against him.
And against this New York backdrop, its clear that it’s not just his grandmother Connie holds a tumultuous relationship with. And all this is divulged through the narrative that is used to help the film tick over it’s hour and half runtime. However, it’s important to note that the narrative is probably the weakest (if I had to pick) point of Good Time.
But rather having the focus on the narrative, the Safdie brothers focused on the characters contained within Good Time and their relationships throughout. Although the narrative is weaker in points, it still serves its purpose as Connie and Nick rob a bank, but it doesn’t go to plan thanks to a dye pack hidden within.
In a state of panic, Nick runs off and finds himself separated from Connie and is subsequently arrested and taken to Rikers Island. He finds himself unable to cope in this environment, whilst Connie tries scrape together the money to make his bail. He contacts his girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in hope she can loan him the money, but in her short screen time, she seems to be very erratic in behaviour and proves unsuccessful in the loan. Again, highlighting the almost-toxic relationships Connie holds with others.
Robert Pattinson is also magnificent in his role as Connie as he ventures into the night in hope of making the bail money. What I really enjoyed about the Safdie Brothers direction is that their knowledge of film language in Good Time with their knowledge of vivid colours, but also deep-rooted shadows throughout. They infuse their knowledge into the narrative, but also interweave it into the soundtrack, as it becomes the perfect accompaniment to the films tension as Connie tries to get this money together.
Good Time is similar both musically and thematically to Drive, (a comparison, I do not take lightly) as the film is interwoven with the colours of the nightlife in New York City and that gorgeous, tense soundtrack accentuating the film. However, the standout for Good Time is the characters that are held at the very centre of the film and become the beating heart for the film. Although Connie takes majority of the screen time, it’s the way in which Nick is perceived in his short time that was astounding. With hardly any dialogue and screen time, Ben Safdie effectively managed to leave his characters mark in this film.
I was honestly pleasantly surprised by Good Time and thought it was an absolute brilliant piece of filmmaking. I knew next to nothing when coming into this film and felt this really helped with my viewing. Although the narrative is probably the weakest point, it’s still an effective one as Connie makes it through this one night in New York City and in parts left me guessing Connie’s next move.
However, the Safdie Brothers knowledge and narrative understanding to not include that much of a backstory was integral to these characters coming off the way they did. If anything, this accentuates and really adds to the film, without over-the-top performances and that blend of narrative, character and soundtrack, Good Time is a damn good watch.
I think it terms of surprise, I don’t think Good Time is going to be topped.