Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Movie Review: "Good Time" (2017)

Director: Benny & Josh Safdie
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

A man named Connie convinces his mentally handicapped brother Nick to help him rob a bank. When Nick is arrested, Connie spends the rest of the night trying to round up enough bail money to get his brother out of prison.

Full of frantic, hectic energy, "Good Time" is a heart pumping dramatic crime thriller from directors Benny and Josh Safdie. This film is also sort of a character sketch that looks at a night in the life of an unsavory fellow name Connie Nikas, played by Robert Pattinson, and to a lesser extent, his mentally disabled brother Nick, played by aforementioned director Benny Safdie. Connie convinces Nick to help him rob a bank. Things go smoothly at first until they eventually don't. Nick winds up in jail, and from that point on, all Connie can do is think of getting him out. He needs to come up with an additional $10,000 for bail and is doing everything he can to get it no matter what the cost. Connie continues to make one mistake after another until everything spirals out of control. He comes across many different characters on his crazy night, played by the likes of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Taliah Webster, Buddy Duress, and Barkhad Abdi.

It is a difficult task to get audiences to relate to a person who is a deceitful criminal like Connie Nikas. Writers Ronald Bronstein and Josh Safdie do a fantastic job building a somewhat sympathetic angle, not with Connie himself, but with his brother Nick. Nick is where we as an audience empathize as he is just a pawn in his brother's grand plan. Due to his handicap, Nick doesn't fully understand the ramifications of his actions. The fact that Connie is trying to get Nick out of prison, how he tries everything he can think of to right his wrongs, is what makes the audience root for his success. Connie clearly cares deeply for Nick despite his exploitative criminal activities. Of course, Connie uses less than honest means to achieve this goal, but somehow, we are with him every step of the way. Almost every single moment, we found ourselves sitting on the edge of our seats wondering, "Is this what's going to get him caught by the police?"

Robert Pattinson does a fabulous job making this constantly lying, often abrasive criminal remain charming and oddly endearing. Connie has a greasy, unkempt look about him as if he hasn't had a shower in over a week. He always seems to be one second away from falling fast asleep. He thinks he is the smartest person in every room he enters, keeping himself ten steps ahead when really he is two steps behind. This is a transformative performance from the once teenage heartthrob, and his role as Connie is about as far away from the one that put him on the map as humanly possible. Benny Safdie is also very good in his own right. Safdie is very believable in his much more limited role as Nick.

The narrative here isn't a straightforward one that tells an overarching story. It's one that explores a single character's actions over the course of an evening. Some will be put off by this movie because of its unfocused plot, but we thoroughly enjoyed this take and found it to be both refreshing and worth the risk. We also must also mention the outstanding electronic score by Oneohtrix Point Never, which is one of our favorites of 2017. It has a very retro vibe to it and it aided in our enjoyment of the film as a whole. In fact, the entire movie is retro, from the way it's shot to the somewhat grainy look of the camera work, from the claustrophobic late 70's-early 80's feel to the overall tone.

"Good Time" is completely enthralling and engaging from start to finish. It's a movie we haven't stopped thinking about since we saw it. Every piece of the puzzle, from Robert Pattinson's incredible performance to its unique feel and look, from the compelling characters to the tremendous visual smorgasbord of colors and frenzy, comes together to make this one of the best movies of the year. Please give it a chance.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~88%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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