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To put it mildly, Good Time is a misleading and manipulative title. The film itself is a genre exercise aimed at pulling viewers out of their comfort zones – and in the Safdie brothers’ grimly realistic world, the end more than justifies the means.

Life after Twilight for Robert Pattinson in grim crime caper

Dec 22, 2017 5:50 AM

LISTEN.

That hammering you hear is the final nail being driven (metaphorically) into the lid of the coffin containing Edward Cullen, the vampire played by Robert Pattinson in the Twilight saga (2008-2012) and the character that threatened to hound him to the grave, career-wise.

But since then, he's made some interesting career choices, including a series of post-Twilight roles aimed at expunging all evidence of his heartthrob status among millions of Twihard fans.

The latest of these is Good Time, a film where he inhabits the character of an unsavoury New Yorker so convincingly that Cullen has been reduced to a speck in his rear-view mirror.

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Directed by brothers Ben and Josh Safdie and written by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, the film is a gritty, crime drama about a lowlife trying desperately to free his mentally-challenged brother from incarceration. It asks a lot of Pattinson, but he proves equal to the task.

Before the title sequence, we're introduced to Nick Nikas (Ben Safdie) at a psychotherapy session. He's handicapped and slow to grasp his situation, distressed by the word-association exercise that the therapist (Peter Verby) is conducting. But then big brother Connie (Pattinson) barges in and hustles him away.

A touching display of fraternal protectiveness, you might think - except the next scene sees him walking Nick through a bank robbery. It's their ticket to a better life, he explains.

Naturally, things don't go according to plan.

Nick is nabbed by the cops and the situation quickly spirals out of control with Connie, hampered by one miscalculation after another, becoming increasingly desperate as he tries to spring his brother - first from a New York jail and then a local hospital - while staying just a half-step ahead of total disaster.

During the course of a long and frenetic night, Connie goes through a series of random encounters.

First, he persuades his flaky girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to use her credit card to put up bail for Nick. Then there's Ray (Buddy Duress), a small-time hood with the misfortune to accidently enter his orbit.

Finally, he talks his way into the home of Crystal (Taliah Webster), a teenager with more time than good sense at her disposal.

With no redeeming factor beyond a fierce devotion to his brother, Connie represents the messy, disturbing side of humanity. He moves through the mean streets of New York with reckless urgency, doing all the wrong things in an effort to liberate Nick.

The directors' penchant for extreme close-ups, the frantic pace and dimly-lit scenes, coupled with an edgy electro-rock score, imbue the film with a constant sense of dread and unease.

"Every day I think about untwisting and untangling these strings I'm in, and to lead a pure life…" goes a song as the end credits roll.

To put it mildly, Good Time is a misleading and manipulative title. The film itself is a genre exercise aimed at pulling viewers out of their comfort zones - and in the Safdie brothers' grimly realistic world, the end more than justifies the means.

Rating: B-