Written by Hunter Williams
The Safdie brothers promise very little with a modest title of only being a ‘Good Time’, when it is, in fact, the best adrenaline rush of 2017. After their previous success with Heaven Knows What, the Safdie’s received an unexpected email from Robert Pattinson. The Twilight star expressed an interest in collaboration, resulting in the ultimate vehicle for everyone involved. It pushed the Safdie’s into Hollywood and launched Pattinson back to the top again. The only expected thing, however, was to be shown a good time. Spoiler alert: I was.
In the opening shot of Josh and Benny Safdie’s ‘Good Time’, the audience is immediately thrown into the head rush of Williams’ fast-moving camera steadily approaching the building in which the frantic New York night begins. Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) bursts into the room, forcibly removing his developmentally disabled brother Nick from his therapy session. The audience will soon learn that this is one mistake among many in the coming hours once the two brothers huddle together in the elevator in order to discuss their plan of robbing a bank for $65,000. It’s not the first time a story followed the aftermath of a failed bank heist, but it’s never been done with such an electric and powerful momentum.
‘Good Time’ understands not to waste any time before the heist, immediately pushing on the gas pedal without ever looking back. Connie and Nick move with the rapid force of the camera, detailed mostly through close-ups and wide shots in order to capture the anxiety and claustrophobia of doing something completely nuts. As the plan is set in motion, the Saftie’s begin to orchestrate the frantic feeling that’ll be prevalent throughout the story, combining the cheesy electric guitar sounds of the nostalgic 80’s with the buzzing synths that feel more like an intensified version of Blade Runner than something of a modern thriller flick. It’s the textured atmosphere of Josh and Benny Safdie’s ‘Good Time’ that not only separates itself from similar heists films, but also distinguishes itself as a true Safdie film that isn’t afraid to indulge in the pure grunge and grease they’re known for.
After the bank heist goes wrong, the audience is left with a wild goose chase lead mostly by Connie Nikas. It’s in this moment in which the weight of the whole story falls on his shoulders, presumably motivating him to do the very best he can. Robert Pattinson embodies the desperate and sometimes intelligent brother who attempts to share his love with his brother Nick, unfortunately not understanding the difference between good and bad love. This is further emphasized by a particularly heartbreaking final scene that does not include Pattinson at all, but rather the feeling he’s left behind. Josh and Benny Safdie develop an aching pain at the centre of their story by demonstrating the character’s inability to sit down and breath through the film’s determination to run them through until they have to.
‘Good Time’ is a precious and deeply affecting thrill ride that’ll be remembered for a lot more than just being a good time, and surely there’s no more of a reason to see it than that. But if there’s one thing to be learned from the whole endeavour, it’s that taking risks on independent film-makers with potential, even if you’re Robert Pattinson, can mean a whole lot more than just a few dollars. It can mean the difference between changing someone’s view of cinema (i.e me and maybe even you).
Hunter’s Rating: 9.5/10
Directed by: Benny & Josh Safdie
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh.