This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“GOOD TIME” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and it’s getting a limited theatrical release this month. This film is directed by Ben and Joshua Safdie and the story follows Connie and Nick. Two brothers who botch a bank robbery and find themselves on the run. Connie (Pattinson) is clearly the leader of the duo but he does hold his brother Nick (Safdie) in high regard, always looking to protect him. When one of them is arrested, the other will pursue all avenues with unending determination to get him out. No matter what it will take.
This was a gritty, but visually captivating film with a story-line that creates many unnerving moments. The plot-lines were bleak and the overall tone was a darker one that creates a moody atmosphere that felt perfectly tailored for the story-lines progression. This was a very raw, at times grim, yet still somewhat of an intimate film, that underneath all the stylization had a surprisingly heartfelt meaning. The Safdie brothers show some appealing film-making qualities. Not all of their techniques worked perfectly for this film and some were slightly unfriendly to the eye at times. But for this story specifically, I think they work effectively enough considering the intended tone and visual styling.
As I said this was a very raw film in terms of the story-line. How it was shot. Through the characters overall appearance, and through the backdrops as well. The overall tone and vibe was on the darker side, but the Safdie brothers contrast it with the addition of a vibrant neon color pallet and a commanding musical score. I have seen many films with great scores and soundtracks. But it has been a long time since a film has used its score as effectively as this one did. The striking tones draped over the story perfectly to create a compelling balance that was very engaging to watch as the musical tones evoke plenty of emotion on their own.
The camerawork was very simplistic as well. It was mostly all handheld techniques that did work for immersing the viewer in the story. But there were some shots that were framed up extremely close. These scenes would hold over extended periods of time, and while this style did work for some scenes. Providing some moments that delivered true, compelling tension. Over the course of the run-time the close-up shots did get monotonous and at times they created a stuffy feeling that I don’t think should have been such a focus. Overall however, the direction has a very simple, but had a vintage feel to it. The film felt very retro like it was from the 70’s with a lot of long overhead shots, and with the use of simple framing to some of the scenes, and to me the creativity was subtle but lasting.
I thought the performances were all excellent. Robert Pattinson has been building a strong resume out of some quality indie flicks and this was yet another. He creates a shifty, determined, and uneasy character. One you don’t like, but at the same time do not dislike, and I think the energy Pattinson brought to this role heightened the material perfectly. Pattinson clearly had a vision for this character. He pours himself into the role and the result was a persona that was as reckless as he was quick-on-his-feet. A combination that creates a character you have to see out until the end, to see what happens to him.
Ben Safdie also co-starred in this one and he brings in a great performance as well. He was complex, you can sense there was a much deeper side to him and the performance from Safdie captured it effectively. Buddy Duress creates a wild character as well. It was a character type we have seen in this genre before but he brings some charm to the performance and creates some of the films effective, but subtle comic relief. Taliah Webster comes in with a grounded, realistic performance. Jennifer Jason Leigh brings in a fantastic performance in her small role. As does Barkhad Abdi.
The story holds a steady pace and it was captivating to watch things spiral out of control as it progresses. It was a very artistic film but doesn’t force it on you. It blends art and storytelling extremely well to create a unique film out of honestly conventional moments. It was a story about unsavory individuals doing, and committing unsavory acts, and it was all captured with a strong realism, never feeling like a film that was trying to glamorize the subject matter. It was a grounded, grimy feeling crime-drama and I definitely recommend it.