A24 seems to be on a role as of late. Fresh off the critically acclaimed release of A Ghost Story, the indie film distributor debuts the newest release produced by the Safdie Brothers and starring an edgier Robert Pattinson.
“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”, the quote that opened the first scene involves a therapist and Benny Safdie playing Nick Nikas, a troubled, mentally challenged man. Trying to decipher the meaning of this quote makes Nick aggressive which is perfect timing for Connie, played by Robert Pattinson, to rescue him; it is there that the film begins as quickly as it started. Connie and Nick hold up a New York bank for $65,000. The two successfully pull off the heist and can soon get away until a domino effect of mishaps causes Nick to be caught by the police and sent to prison.
The role of Connie teeters between good guy and villian. It is clear from the first few minutes that Connie is overprotective of his brother. And as the film progresses we see that he will do, literally, anything to make sure he is free. Ultimately it’s his fault his brother is in prison and the spiraling crime spree that ensues is really for the sake of getting the extra $10,000 needed to bail him out. However, all the players that come into his path become discarded pawns. Connie travels through their lives like a tornado: arriving, destroying, everything in its path, and then disappearing, while the survivors are left to pick up the pieces of a life that will never be the same again.
Although there is a twist that brings a minor comedic moment, the script falls flat. Good Time is a fast paced, gritty look at New York after dark, but the characters are discarded so quickly the dialogue seems choppy. Seeing more of Nick (Benny Safdie) would have allowed the viewer to develop a deeper connection to one of the main characters. We see he has a mental disability, however he is aware of the things he’s done and you sense he isn’t happy with the choices he’s made in his life. After, Nick is locked up the film becomes ‘the Robert Pattinson running out of time show’. Pattinson’s mistakes battle between carelessness and clever. It is understood he is on borrowed time so the anxiety from a possible capture could be the cause of the careless mistakes. But then there are moments of cleverness, like when he distracts a girl, played by Taliah Webster, from the news channel when his face appears as a wanted man; a cringe worthy distraction, might I add.
Good Time is just one of many films, by A24, that features a polarizing lead. It Comes At Night and A Ghost Story are just two fairly recent films that feature a lead the viewer can love to hate; Connie Nikas is no exception. You root for Pattinson to save his brother but then you also see how his “by any means necessary” attitude is fairing out negatively for others around him. He has no redeeming qualities at all. What you see is what you get, and in a way that is what creates a deeper complexity of his character. Aesthetically gritty and edgy, Good Time’s cinematography offers documentary-like scenes filled with close ups and long shots of neon drenched moments. It is a filthy looking film, but Robert Pattinson’s performance lights up every scene and the love he has for his brother is truly felt at the end.
Have you seen a Good Time?