The month of August is traditionally a slower one at the movies. All of the Summer’s blockbusters are winding down their runs as the Fall and awards season, respectively, approach. Thus, there’s a small window during this time where no big-budget, high-profile films are being released. (Granted, this window of time only lasts about two weeks.) So, it serves as the perfect time for smaller independent films to release or expand to more theaters. Good Time, an independent drama, is one of these.
Ironically titled, this movie is a tale human desperation. It’s low on laughs, but high on tension. The film follows Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) and his brother Nick (Benny Safdie) in the aftermath of their almost successful bank robbery. Connie is on the run; having to evade capture at every turn. At the same time, he’s trying to procure enough bail money to get Nick released, who was arrested during the brothers’ initial attempt to escape police. Adding to the tension is the fact that Nick suffers from mental illness, which his brother worries will make jail an even more dangerous environment for him.
As you might imagine from the plot summary, every second in Good Time counts. Directors and brothers Josh and Benny Safdie (the latter of whom also co-edits as well as acts in the picture) have constructed a very tight, tense script. The driving force of which is, of course, the situation itself. The reason we care about the said situation though is the two brothers on which we’re focused.
Both Pattinson (who has come far since his Twilight fame) and Safdie give excellent performances in which they come across as truly desperate and real people. The pair does such a great job that while, realistically, you know it would be better for Nick to go to a mental health facility to be treated while Connie serves his time, as a viewer, that isn’t what you want. The film makes you want these brothers to reunite and run off with their loot because they love each other, despite being completely worn down by the world.
The Safdie Brothers’ (Daddy Long Legs, Heaven Knows What) low-budget also lends to the look of the film. Visually, it is dirty, dark and gritty; this matches the tone of the story nicely. The pace of the film and its story move relentlessly until near the end of its second act, where the main issue of the movie comes into light. It’s at that point that the film takes an “acid trip” subplot of sorts. Ultimately, I felt the choice to go this route distracted from the primary purpose of the film. This was the only part of the movie where I could feel the time but I still wanted to see what happened to the protagonists.
This issue notwithstanding, I would still recommend this film. The first act, and the majority of its last act, in conjunction with the actors’ performances certainly make it worth seeing. In particular, I think those with siblings; especially brothers, will get a little something extra out of this film.
I must admit to having not seen the Safdie brothers’ previous efforts. After seeing Good Time though, I intend to. They not only understand filmmaking, but also humanity and thereby, seem to tell very human stories. In my opinion, that kind of storytelling deserves to be supported.
Find a theater to take in Good Time; it’s now playing in limited release.