Good Time

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 11, 2017

'Good Time'
'Good Time'  

We begin in a small room, where Nick Nikas (Benny Safdie) is being urged into therapeutic conversation and word association exercises by a social services therapist (Peter Verby). It's almost immediately clear that Nick is developmentally disabled -- his ears sporting hearing aids, his speech slightly slurred, a tear slowly rolling down his cheek when he's unable to fully express what he's feeling through words.

It's a scene structured in sadness and silences, until chaos bursts into the room in the form of Nick's brother Connie, played by Robert Pattinson. The camera even reflects the abrupt shift, jaggedly crash zooming into Connie's desperate and frustrated face as he yells at the therapist and takes his brother away. As they frantically pace down the hall, away from this place, a feverish electronic score by Daniel Lopatin (a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never) pulses through the soundscape. We cut to a stylized title card that reads "Good Time."

From here, we kick into high gear that never exhausts its energy. The latest from immensely talented filmmaking duo Josh and Benny Safdie blends the cartoonish anxiety of Martin Scorsese's "After Hours" with the socio-political lens of Frederick Wiseman's "Law and Order" (two works that the Safdies have directly cited as influence for their film).

It follows Connie's fraught misadventures as he attempts to get his brother out of jail after a bank robbery goes wrong. The movie executes a busy plot that's consistently accelerating forward, amplified by Lopatin's aforementioned music, the inventively restless yet meticulous editing by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, and mesmerizing cinematography by Sean Price Williams. Both Bronstein and Williams collaborated with the Safdies on their previous film, "Heaven Knows What," another masterpiece worth your time.

Robert Pattinson is at the top of his game here -- unsurprisingly, as the actor has been slowly shedding his "Twilight" persona along with Kristen Stewart over the past few years, with both artists taking on roles that challenge and cultivate miraculous dividends. If you had told me five years ago that both Pattinson and Stewart (in "Personal Shopper") would give two of 2017's best performances, I would've likely chuckled at the prospect. But here we are, looking at the prosperous present and immensely promising futures of two of our greatest young actors.

Specifically, in "Good Time" Pattinson serves up an explosively dynamic contrast of desperation, devotion, sociopathy and casual cruelty as Connie, a performance that will be hard to top as the highlight of this particular actor's career.

Additionally, Benny Safdie is downright remarkable in his performance as Nick, so much so that I saw the co-director speak following a screening of this film and had to remind myself that I had just seen him perform as well. Safdie becomes an entirely new being through Nick, and while his screen time is definitely limited compared to Pattinson, the first and final scenes of "Good Time" are completely his show and both moments gutted me like a fish.

A final MVP worth noting is Buddy Duress, who the Safdies discovered in "Heaven Knows What." The kid's a star, and hammers home one of the movie's very best punchlines after delivering a backseat anecdotal monologue for the record books.

Imagine a monster truck with a cement block on the gas pedal, barreling through a crash course of fire and flashing neon lights while running over white picket fences, and you begin to get an idea of what it feels like to experience the hypnotic head rush that is "Good Time."

It's a film almost indescribable in the emotions and reactions it draws out of us. Swiveling from gut-busting laughter to nail-biting danger, heart-racing panic attacks to heartbreaking desolation, playful surrealism to staggering social commentary, "Good Time" is a hell of a thing and will remain one of the year's very best films.



Connie Nikas :: Robert Pattinson
Corey :: Jennifer Leigh
Dash :: Barkhad Abdi
Nick Nikas :: Benny Safdie
Ray :: Buddy Duress
Uber Driver :: Souléymane Savané
Undercover Cop :: Phil Cappadora
Loren :: Rose Gregorio
Officer Patrick :: Cliff Moylan
Inmate :: Jibril Goodman
Undercover Cop :: Shaun Rey


Director :: Josh Safdie
Director :: Benny Safdie
Screenwriter :: Josh Safdie
Screenwriter :: Ronald Bronstein
Producer :: Sebastian Bear-McClard
Producer :: Oscar Boyson
Producer :: Paris Latsis
Producer :: Jean-Luc De Fanti
Producer :: Terry Dougas
Cinematography :: Sean Williams
Film Editing :: Benny Safdie
Film Editing :: Ronald Bronstein
Original Music :: Oneohtrix Point Never
Production Design :: Sam Lisenco
Costume Design :: Miyako Bellizzi
Casting :: Jennifer Venditti