The Safdie brothers shook me to my core in 2015 with their intoxicating character study, Heaven Knows What. Now they return with an equally raw and intense tale of delinquency on the fringes of society in downtrodden New York. Last time, their star was directly from the streets they were portraying, this time Robert Pattinson takes centre stage in Good Time as a man racing against the clock to get his brother out of jail. The global star is being widely congratulated on being practically unrecognisable as Connie, a selfish lowlife with no concern for anyone other than his brother, who appears to live with ASD. This isn’t the first time I’ve been convinced of Pattinson’s vast talent but it’s certainly a pivotal moment in his relatively short career. Spanning over twenty four hours, Good Time is a nail-biting post-heist drama which echoes both the relentless intensity of Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria and the chaotic charm of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours. When a bank robbery goes wrong, Connie will stop at nothing to return his brother to his care, regardless of who he manipulates or hurts along the way. Josh and Benny Safdie are experts at capturing a very specific type of selfishness – a selfishness born of circumstance and poverty. Good Time is driven by our protagonist’s tunnel vision, desperate to reunite with his brother – regardless of whether or not this is the right thing for both of them.
It’s a real talent to make it possible for an audience to thoroughly enjoy spending time with such unlikeable individual. This was certainly the case with Heaven Knows What and now Good Time reconfirms the intelligence with which the Safdie brothers are able to handle and portray their characters, simultaneously gripping the audience tight. It’s a joy to see the brothers confidently developing a clear style, consisting of jittery facial close ups, a contrast of urban streets and artificial neon lighting all accompanied by a vibrant original score – this time from Oneohtrix Point Never, featuring Iggy Pop. I feel incredibly uncomfortable in the company of Pattinson’s troubled character, but at the same time very comfortable in the hands of Josh and Benny Safdie. Good Time is a strong follow up to Heaven Knows What which excels with its evidently larger budget and identifiable talent but which remains tied to the directors’ New York roots and gritty, resourceful aesthetic. Ten years into their filmmaking careers, it appears the brothers are finally being embraced by the Hollywood elite but luckily not changing their personal style. Their films are brimming with integrity and all signs would indicate that they look for the same in their performers with Robert Pattinson, Caleb Landry Jones and Arielle Holmes all producing exceptionally deep collaborative work with the brothers. Good Time is a perfect example of genuinely exciting independent filmmaking in which all components merge perfectly to create an explosive tale of crime, greed and manipulation.
Thank you for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.