A pretty good time with a pretty bad dude.
Some films have great openings. They kick into gear immediately, and you know what kind of a movie you’re about to watch, because, in the first few minutes, the tone is there, the attitude of the film is in your face and by the time that opening is done, you know what you’re going to be seeing for the next 90 minutes.
The opening to Good Time is like that.
In it, Nick Nikas (Benny Safdie, who co-directed the film with his brother Josh), receiving some kind of counselling session from kind and patient psychiatrist Peter (Peter Verby, kindly affecting in his own credited screen role). Nick is clearly mentally disabled, barely able to form complex sentences in response to simple word association games. Safdie is believable here, giving Nick a contorted and pained expression to accompany every mumbled, one-note answer.
Peter seems to be making some real headway with Nick, easing out details about potential childhood abuse from his mother, when Nick’s brother Connie (Robert Pattinson) interrupts the session. Connie is his brother’s polar opposite. Brash, talkative and wiry enough that it seems like he has bugs crawling up and down his skin, Connie is quick to eject his brother from the session. From here, they commit a robbery that ends with Nick getting busted by the police and Connie, the ever-determined idiot with a car salesman’s tongue, hatching increasingly foolish plans to stop his brother from going to jail.
Connie is whom we spend the majority of the film with, and it is tough going. While the opening sequence is mysterious and restrained, Connie sort of hijacks the story and forces viewers to watch him manipulate people, screw things up and continually make bad decisions. Probably the funniest plot point has him drag his brother out of bed in the hospital, put him in a wheelchair and weasel his way into spending the night at a mother and daughter’s place in the city, only to find out he rescued the wrong guy, a mistake he refuses to see as indicative of his incompetence.
With a pulsating, urgent score from Oneohtrix Point Never and the aggressive, handheld directing style of the Safdie brothers, Good Time is an effective caper-gone-wrong story that forces you to have a really bad night with a complete dickhead. Pattinson is clearly capable of portraying such an unlikeable character, especially Connie’s borderline psychopathic inability to admit wrongs or give up when he’s clearly at the end of his rope. But did it have to be such a bummer to hang out with him?
Tom Bensley is a freelance writer in Melbourne who reviews anything he attends, watches or reads. It’s a compulsion, really. Follow him @TomAliceBensley.
Good Time is currently in cinemas.