Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Running Time: 101 mins
Good Time is an American film about a man who attempts to get his brother out of jail and save his own skin after a bank robbery gone wrong, but soon finds his efforts spiralling out of control as he becomes deeper and deeper drawn into the underworld of the city.
Taking cues from other psychedelic all-night crime thrillers, Good Time is a striking and engrossing watch, complete with very effective directing that gives the city of New York late at night a pulsating and disturbing atmosphere. It may not have the depth or originality to make it a fascinating watch, however thanks to a strong lead performance from Robert Pattinson, the movie does bring the brutal nature of the criminal underworld into excellent perspective.
Let’s start with what is undoubtedly the film’s most striking element: the visuals. Not only is the movie bathed in neon blues and pinks throughout (often even during daytime sequences as well as night), but the cinematography and use of camera angles is fantastically dynamic and exciting to watch at every turn.
Above all, directors Benny and Josh Safdie push the camera close up to the main character’s faces for a large proportion of the movie, creating a breathless and claustrophobic atmosphere that creates more tension and weariness around the chase as the night wears on, as you’re crammed into small spaces with the characters on screen, as such getting a far deeper feeling of the intensity of their situation.
That’s what makes the film a real thrill to watch, and with that strong intensity playing out over the course of the whole film, Good Time is a particularly engrossing watch, with a brutally exhausting nature reminiscent of the likes of After Hours, Stretch and Nerve.
Away from the visuals, the film’s most interesting element comes in the form of its portrayal of the criminal underworld, and the nature of crime in itself. Initially, the film gets you on edge with its depiction of sheer desperation as the two brothers commit a bank robbery, and then bumble over the consequences when it all goes pear-shaped.
What’s more intriguing, however, is how the film shows our main character, played by Robert Pattinson, and the way in which he is forced to step over people all across the city just to get away with the crime he committed. From the start, it’s a desperately bleak part of the story that sees innocent people all over getting caught up in an awful situation, yet it proves a poignant and powerful reminder of the brutality of the nature of crime, which I found fascinating.
Apart from that, however, there wasn’t all that much more to Good Time that really blew me away. It’s an intense watch, yes, but it’s not one that held me on the edge of my seat right the way through. Most of all, I didn’t feel the strength of Pattinson’s character’s attachment to his brother over the second half of the film, where his intention to get him out of prison really starts to waiver as he’s drawn into more pressing issues, leaving me a little frustrated as the entire movie changes tack in rather abrupt and unearned fashion just over halfway through.
It’s not a boring film by any means, but I felt there could have been a lot more done here to give the characters on screen the same depth and intrigue as the portrayal of the city itself does. Other than that, however, Good Time is an impressive watch, with brilliant directing and cinematography, as well as an engrossing portrayal of crime throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 7.4 overall.