Starring Robert Pattinson. Rated 14A
Shedding his pretty-boy image to play the grittiest character of his career thus far, Robert Pattinson goes well beyond what we’ve previously seen from the sleek young Briton. But is Good Time really worthy of his efforts?
The ironically titled movie follows a number of allegedly working-class people having a much-less-than-fun 24 hours. It centres on Pattinson’s Connie Nikas, a two-bit hustler in charge of his mentally impaired brother, Nick. The latter is played by Benny Safdie, who directed this brisk effort with his own brother, Josh. Connie’s idea of a good sibling day out is to rob a bank, and do it in slovenly enough fashion to spend the rest of the movie trying to get Nick and himself out of ever-deepening trouble.
Written by Josh with previous collaborator Ronald Bronstein, the script doesn’t explain why Connie needed such a gormless accomplice—or any at all—but then, it’s pretty stingy with all other relevant information. We know the bros have a troubled history with their elderly Greek grandmother, but not why. Connie takes frequent advantage of his whiny, insecure girlfriend, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh in one extended sequence, while battles with her mother loom unexplained in the background. Most crucially, we never know what turned Connie into such a relentless weasel, although you could conclude that the guy would do pretty well for himself if he put his wildly inventive survival skills into something more constructive.
In a way, the movie’s narrative opaqueness is also its charm. We never know for sure where the hell we are, and neither does Connie. This pays off in the middle section, with a funny switcheroo. And the locations keep changing in the final third. But Sean Price Williams’s handheld cinematography and a deafening electro score by Daniel Lopatin keep suggesting more gravity than the film delivers. (There’s also a weird racial subtext to it.) With his dead-on outer-borough accent and sleepless, thousand-yard stare, Pattinson is utterly convincing as someone who, despite all his heavy lifting, we never come to care about.