James Cole Clay // Film Critic
Just because a character is deplorable in every way, doesn’t make his or her plight unworthy. In every great film about misanthropes, we see how their mind works, what makes them tick and, in some cases, there is a shred of empathy that lies beneath. In Josh and Benny Safdie’s incredible grime-crime film GOOD TIME we follow New York City’s most inept petty criminal Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) as he fails at every turn to recover money he stole with his mentally challenged brother Nick (co-director Benny Safdie) over the course of one very stressful night.
You may not have heard of the Safdie’s films yet (HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT), but their brand of grit has a calculated chaos for the troubled souls that enter their kinetic frames. You may find their world off putting, but it takes a skilled group of creators to forge a story that grabs the audience by their shirt and refuses to let go. GOOD TIME is about a subculture you don’t see on screen or, hopefully, in your every day life. We are continually taunted with the causes and effects of poor decisions, yet we are constantly zigged when the plot starts to zag.
Pattinson’s signature role is, of course, a brooding sparkling vampire that didn’t do the actor many favors at the time. But now is his cache and has led the former teen heartthrob to his best acting to date. The manic energy of Connie is a twitchy descent into the head of a guy who uses and abuses everyone around him, including the unconditional love he feels for his brother Nick. This leads us to the perfect plot of a bank robbery gone horribly wrong. During this long odyssey, Connie’s plights grow far past the point of justifiable.
This all seems by design, as each problem becomes worse than the next. If anything, GOOD TIME is a great document on what not to do as a petty criminal. But ultimately, love is what fuels this traumatic night — brotherly love, the love of the chase and the freedom that money provides. The film traps its characters in a world lacking empathy, and as a result, there is nothing left to lose.