August 23, 2017

CINEMA | Robert Pattinson Escapes A Crazy 'Good Time'

"I don't want to watch them try to justify that."
Robert Pattinson Safdie Brothers | Good Time

It's hard to think of a better recent example of an actor completely giving himself over to the vision of their filmmakers than Robert Pattinson's completely riveting, breakthrough performance in the Safdie brothers' electrifying Good Time. Pattinson executes an unforgiving and wholly captivating character presence in the Queen's set, one-night, small-time thriller of twisted brotherhood where everything goes wrong.

New York indie filmmaking duo Josh and Benny Safdie of Daddy Longlegs and Heaven Knows What fame construct a sleazy, downbeat film that's also a total blast around Pattinson's acting skills while also being both a showcase of his raw talent and the brother's expressive vision of criminal life. Pattinson's Connie is full of splendid contradictions that come across completely in his dynamic performance. His character is clearly a charismatic and opportunistic loser who uses his charm instead of violence to get what he wants while constantly improvising his schemes from one moment to the next.

Co-director Benny Safdie also stars as Connie's mentally disabled brother roped into Connie's plans. His arrest and violent incarceration sets the surefire 100-minute thriller into motion. It's a fine but mostly supportive performance servicing the moving plot to get Connie into his next harrowing situation scripted by Josh and collaborator Ronald Bronstein.

Robert Pattinson Ben Josh Safdie Josh Safdie | Good Time

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi appear in minor roles to complicate or impede Connie's desperate attempts for escape while a teenage Taliah Webster brings a natural charisma to a difficult role as an underage accomplice of sorts to Connie's crimes. Halfway through, convict turned actor Buddy Duress shows up in a hilariously intriguing role that blows up the entire film's story magnificently.

The stylish film has a lush, stark framing throughout. Shot by cinematographer Sean Price Williams, it features a propulsive, vibrant look despite the grimy locations and dark subject matter. One sequence, set at a low rent amusement park, evokes creepiness with neon lights and loud imagery to get across the urgency and improvisation of its desperate characters. Furthermore, Oneohtrix Point Never's hypnotic yet bouncing electronic musical score makes everything feel all the more moody yet chaotic.

Good Time is a firecracker of a film. Its propulsive narrative and energetic beats while exploring down and dirty material is admirable. The Safdies' direction is pure adrenaline and makes the sordid drama so lively even when it sidesteps into humorous flashbacks or LDS-fuelled shenanigans. Pattinson gives an absolutely revelatory performance that suggests he's capable of anything given the proper material.


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