August 23, 2017

GENRE | 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 director(s) 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 completely 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. It's also 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.

Benny 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 and/or impede Connie's desperate attempts for escape. Teenage actor Taliah Webster brings a naturalistic warmth to a difficult role as an unwitting underage accomplice of sorts to his 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 such a specific kind of eeriness using throbbing neon lights and other loud imagery to perfectly get across the sense of urgency and improvisation of the desperate situation. 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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