(Winner of the Cannes Soundtrack Award to Daniel Lopatin at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival) Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie and written and edited by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, Good Time is the story of a robber whose mentally-disabled brother is arrested forcing him to find a way to get him out of jail. The film is a crime drama in which a young robber deals with a botched robbery as he does whatever he can to free his younger brother. Starring Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Lennice Webster, Barkhad Abdi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Good Time is a gripping yet exhilarating film from Josh and Benny Safdie.
The film revolves around a robbery that gets botched where a mentally-disabled man is arrested and captured forcing his older brother to find ways to get him out of jail as he spends much of time getting money and such to get him out while being on the run himself. It is a film with a simple premise as it explore a criminal trying to do what he can to get his brother out of jail knowing that his brother is unable to deal with prison due to the fact that he’s mentally-disabled. The film’s screenplay Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein is largely straightforward as it follows Constantin “Connie” Nikas (Robert Pattinson) accompanying his younger yet mentally-disabled brother Nick (Buddy Safdie) for a bank robbery as the two wear masks and carry guns as they seemed to have succeed unaware that a dye pack is in the bag as it exploded leaving Connie and Nick on the run where the latter is arrested and later gets into a fight during his jail stay.
The rest of the film has Connie trying to get money to get his brother out as he asks his girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) for $10,000 to get him out of jail but things get complicated as a bail bondsman revealed that Nick has been sent to a hospital following a beating. Connie decides to take matter into his own hands and things start to get more troubling as it puts him into a series of misadventures that included a Sprite bottle filled with LSD and other things along the way with a number of individuals involved.
The direction of Josh and Benny Safdie is riveting in terms of its sense of realism as well as the fact that it is shot on location in New York City with the borough of Queens being the prominent location. While there are some wide shots including aerial shots of these locations, much of the direction from the Safdies is grounded as the first shot is presented with close-ups where Nick is in a session with a psychiatrist (Peter Verby). There is this element of cinema verite that the Safdies go for in the action in their usage of close-ups and medium shots such as the bank robbery scene where it is all about notes and wit as there is no violence that happens. There are also scenes set at the infamous New York prison Riker’s Island that does give the film a sense of realism as if it was shot at Riker’s Island where Nick gets into a fight and beaten up badly. The direction also this energy in the way Connie would do to get his brother out as the hospital scene in the second act in which he sneaks in to try and get Nick out is filled with suspense but there is also an encounter with a guy he meets in Ray (Buddy Duress) who would have this dizzying montage about his own day as it is filled with a lot of misadventure.
Since the film uses its locations as characters in the film such as a scene at night at the Adventureland amusement park in Long Island. The Safdies also create this air of tension in which Connie had to use his own street smarts to get out of a situation but also realize that he can’t trust certain people. Even as this small Sprite bottle filled with LSD that is worth money becomes something he needs to get his brother out but there are also these revelations in the third act of what Connie had done as he’s also a fugitive with TV news reporting about what he and Nick did. Still, the Safdies do explore this air of danger into the world of crime and what this man had to do to help his brother knowing that they screwed up as he felt responsible for what had happened. Overall, the Safdies craft an intense and high-octane film about a criminal trying to get his mentally-disabled brother out of jail.
Cinematographer Sean Price Williams does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of natural light for some exterior scenes in the day as well as available and bits of light for the exterior scenes at night as well as the usage of neon lights for the nighttime interior scenes. Editors Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein do amazing work with the editing with its stylish usage of jump-cuts as well as the montage sequence involving Ray as well as other cuts to help establish what is happening without going too long or too short. Production designer Sam Lisenco, with set decorator Audrey Turner and art director Patrick Duncan, does fantastic work with the look of some of the places that Connie goes to whether it’s a home from an old lady or a place where he stole some keys from someone. Costume designers Miyako Bellizzi and Mordechai Rubinstein do terrific work with the costumes from the coats that Connie and Nick wear as well as some of the casual street clothes they wear as it adds that sense of grittiness into their look.
Special makeup effects designer Toby Sells and hair/makeup artist Anouck Sullivan do excellent work with the look of a character while Sullivan does a lot of the look for Connie including his dyed blonde hair in the film’s second half. Visual effects supervisor Adam Teninbaum does nice work with a few of the film’s visual effects as it relates mainly to Ray’s montage sequence as well as bits of set dressing in some locations. Sound designer Ryan M. Price does superb work with the film’s sound in the way overlapping conversations sound in a prison as well as the way police sirens sound from afar as it helps add to the film’s suspense. The film’s music by Daniel Lopatin, in his Oneohtrix Point Never pseudonym, is incredible for its brooding and gripping electronic music score that often helps play up the sense of drama and suspense along with a few ambient bits while Lopatin also creates a closing song with Iggy Pop as well as cultivating the film’s soundtrack that includes pieces from Frankie Ruiz, Mosley & Johnson, and Nike Boi.
The casting by Jennifer Venditti is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Eric Paykert as a bails bondsman, Rose Gregorio as Corey’s mother who doesn’t like Connie, Saida Mansoor as Connie and Nick’s grandmother who believes Connie is a bad influence on Nick, Peter Verby as Nick’s psychiatrist, Ron “Necro” Braunstein as Ray’s friend Caliph, Barkhad Abdi as an Adventureland security guard in Dash, Buddy Duress as a recently-paroled man in Ray whom Connie would find himself involved in trying to get some money and a Sprite bottle full of LSD, Taliah Lennice Webster as a 16-year old girl named Crystal who helps Connie out following an incident in the hospital as she also helps him in trying to get a few things, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in an excellent small role as Connie’s older girlfriend Corey who tries to help him bail out Nick only to realize the financial trouble she’s in.
Benny Safdie is brilliant as Nick Nikas as a mentally-disabled young man who is slow but not an imbecile as he is someone that is confused at times while also has a hard time socializing which makes him an easy target for the police as he would put himself in trouble with other prisoners. Finally, there’s Robert Pattinson in a magnificent performance as Constantin “Connie” Nikas as Nick’s older brother who is also a street-smart criminal that knows what to do but feels guilty for his action where Pattinson definitely plays someone who is a flawed person that is unlikeable at times but is also someone that at least cares about his brother and is willing to do anything to get his brother out of jail and find ways to get what he wants.
Good Time is a phenomenal film from Josh and Benny Safdie that features a great leading performance from Robert Pattinson. Along with its supporting cast, stylish visuals, gripping story, and a hypnotic music score by Daniel Lopatin. It is a crime film that explore a young man who is trying to save his brother following a botched bank robbery as he endures a series of misadventures to get money to get his brother out. In the end, Good Time is a sensational film from Josh and Benny Safdie.
Safdie Brothers Films: (The Pleasure of Being Robbed) – (Daddy Longlegs) – (Lenny Cooke) – Heaven Knows What - (Uncut Gems)
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