Two brothers, in crime and in blood, enter a fast-food bathroom drenched in pink-dye, hastily pulling at the ceiling tiles to hide a rucksack brimming with stained notes. Shockingly, it is all downhill from here as a bank robbery triggers a chain of events over the course of an exhilarating neon-soaked night.
Connie (Robert Pattinson) and Nick (Bennie Safdie) Nikas are an unlikely pair, but an unmistakable bond oozes from every frame they share, one so strong that despite his brother’s mental illness, he trusts him enough to offer him partnership in armed robbery. He could have chosen someone else, but under the suggestion that their adolescent days of ripping off convenience stores together for petty cash have escalated, the cards are gloriously laid out on the curb. After his brother is caught in the heat of a detailed getaway, Connie must take responsibility, devising a plan to spring his brother from the law. A stressful 24-hour period ensues, one anchored by fascinating execution from Robert Pattinson.
Good Time is told through Connie’s perspective, and while he may not be the most respectful of characters, he may be the most fascinating on screen creation screens have seen all year. When talking with 16 year-old Crystal (Taliah Webster), holed out at her grandmother’s house, he confesses his belief that he used to be dog in his past life. If this holds any truth, he died and became a wolf; hungry and on the prowl for cash. He is a man so satisfied at the unravelling of his plans that he mentally celebrates them before they even come to a close – a huge mistake. His confidence in being one step ahead of the game often threatens to result in the opposite, but being such a spontaneous being, he accepts every challenge thrown his way, and relentlessly overcomes threats of capture and conviction by the skin of his teeth. So relentlessly quick on his feet, and refusing to let his eyes stray from the prize results in an audience unable to take their eyes off of his. Connie must repeatedly shed his skin to adapt to his surroundings; costume changes are so frequent that when the hair-dye surfaces, there is a respect for his devotion to the cause, however problematic that cause may be. He loves his brother, their relationship is toxically beautiful from its inception, and tonight, nothing will get in his way.
It would be foolish to try to predict, or even estimate the detours that the night will take, as these nocturnal escapades are at all times instinctively manoeuvred through an intense paranoia nibbling away slowly at his fortitude. The lighting takes them on an odyssey that often dips into surrealist territory; houses and areas they visit are pierced with an assortment of artificial lights, and give the appearance that these enclosed and cramped spaces could possibly go on for miles, while at all times supporting an intense atmosphere devised of Pattinson’s unhinged glares. The night is born of a simple objective – a rescue mission – but the means to an end continues to shift with a desperation that burgeons with every failed attempt to secure bail bonds.
Use of music only acts to further enhance the sheer power of this assault on the senses. A collection of arrangements and sounds invade the images; dread and doom sweat through the claustrophobic shot constructions – an intense immediacy, once introduced, never lets up for the duration of the film. The Safdie brothers’ direction is of flawless competence, and this seems like the next logical step after their previous and criminally underrated feature, Heaven Knows What. Their inclusion of relevant race topics and social commentary of a reality of New York that simply isn’t the reality that most know is inspired by their precedent work, of which has all seemed to lead to this wonderful moment in cinema. These are talents to keep the eyes peeled, and this latest outing is here to secure interest; The Safdie brothers demand your attention, throttling any sense of security and composure for an hour and forty minutes, and they have just made a masterpiece.