Friday, July 28, 2017

“Good Time”– Movie Review

Good Time

Recently, I attended a sneak preview at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center of the new crime drama “Good Time”, starring Robert Pattinson.


Can a thief free his brother who was wrongly jailed for a botched bank robbery?


Constantine (Pattinson) wants to have a close relationship with his brother Nick (Ben Safdie), but that’s easier said than done.  Given their background of being raised in a highly dysfunctional family and the fact that Nick is developmentally disabled, developing such ties is a bit of a challenge.  With this in mind, Connie devises something that, in his own twisted way of thinking, will be a bonding experience between the siblings:  he will include his brother in a bank robbery he’s been planning.  Needless to say, this doesn’t turn out very well; although they make it out of the bank with a bagful of money, much of their loot becomes tainted when the dye pack explodes, coloring many of the bills (and the both of them) in bright red.

The other problem is a considerably bigger one:  while being pursued by the police, Connie is able to escape but Nick winds up being caught.  Learning of Nick’s arrest, he brings the cash to a bail bondsman who informs Connie he will be unable to use much of the take for Nick’s bail as the bills were stained from the dye pack.  Being $10,000 short on his brother’s bail, Connie turns to his girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) for help.  Corey isn’t exactly in the best shape financially either; she’s living with her mother because she can’t afford her own place.  Not only that, but she doesn’t even have credit cards; instead, she has to use an extra card from her mother’s account. 

Upon returning to the bail bond office with Corey, they discover that Corey’s mother has already cancelled the card so it can’t be used.   Not only that, but Connie is now notified that even if they could use the card, they wouldn’t be able to bail out Nick; it turns out that Nick’s been hospitalized following a severe beating resulting from a jail brawl.  The bondsman explains to Connie that until Nick is discharged from the hospital and returned to jail, the bail money is useless.  This being the case, Connie decides that instead of actually doing something sensible, he’ll sneak Nick out of the hospital to prevent him from being returned to jail.  But can this crazy plan succeed or will it only lead to greater problems that will cause the police to intensify their chase?


When it comes to an analysis of “Good Time”, the challenge is this:  it is just as easy to praise it as it is to deride.  On the one hand, Pattinson gives a remarkable performance as the type of character he rarely gets an opportunity to play.  On the other hand, Connie is such a low-life and an idiot, it gets increasingly difficult for the audience to root for him.  While Connie’s character may indeed be the protagonist in a technical sense, he is more of an anti-hero; the only thing that could be considered a redeeming feature is his desire to help his brother – although his motives might be more selfish than selfless.

So what makes “Good Time” worth recommending beyond merely Pattinson’s performance?  For one thing, the fact that it is an unusual story.  On the surface, it may seem like a typical heist tale, but on deeper inspection, it is truly a story of familial obligations and ties, even when that family is exceedingly dysfunctional.  Given the fact that Connie and Nick come from such a background makes Connie’s consistently poor decisions all the more plausible – almost to the point where it becomes comical (and his base incompetence does appear occasionally risible).   

Following the screening, there was an interview with Pattinson, co-directors The Safdie Brothers and co-screenwriter Ronald Brownstein.  Pattinson said that he appreciated the chaotic environment created on the set by the directors because it brought a considerable amount of energy to the shoot and to his performance.  He added that while many people view “Good Time” as very much a New York movie, to him, it looks like more of a horror film.  Brownstein said that he worked extensively with Ben Safdie to create a backstory for both Connie and Nick by emailing him as if he was the character Connie.

Good Time (2017) on IMDb

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