By Michael Kalafatis (stoke-on-Trent)
Directed by Josh and Ben Safdie. Written by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein. Starring Robert Pattinson, Ben Safdie, Buddy Duress and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Constantine “Connie” Nikas (Robert Pattinson) and his mentally handicapped brother Nick Nikas( Ben Safdie) attempt to rob a bank, but the heist goes awry and Nick is arrested and Connie tries to find $ 10,000 so he can release his brother before he is transferred to Riker’s island prison. Good Time chronicles the desperate attempts of Connie to secure the $10,000 in one night, a night that is unpredictable, suspenseful, frantic and saturated with desperation.
Good Time starts in an office where Nick has a meeting with a psychiatrist, this scene is shot in a medium close-up with the use of shot reverse shot between Nick and Peter (the psychiatrist). This opening scene last for a few minutes but it is very tense because it refuses to change to a different type of shots, it remains fixed in a medium close-up to convey the pressure and uneasiness that Nick feels while he answers the questions posed by Peter, as the questions become more personal Nick starts to feel uncomfortable and annoyed. This interrogation fortunately for Nick is interrupted by the abrupt entrance of Connie, who takes Nick away with an intention to rob a bank afterwards while advising Nick that he does not need to see a psychiatrist.
Then the film starts to use different types of shots but as the narrative continuous we realise that the use of medium close -ups will prevail all throughout the narrative, and will reinforce the sense of entrapment for both Connie and Nick who spend most of the narrative in separate milieu. Connie is to blame for their unfortunate predicament even though he does not admit to it, he is to blame for his own brother imprisonment and he does not realise that Nick requires therapy otherwise he won’t be able to be a functioning member of society thus he does not even support or acknowledge that his brother need help.
Good Time is a film that has a protagonist that we ought not to feel sympathy or even to root for, Connie is a self-righteous thug who does not realise that it is his own fault that his mentally challenged brother is in prison, he embarks on a dangerous odyssey to secure the right amount of money to release his brother from prison without thinking that he’s the one at fault.
Other than it’s fascination of showing faces which resembles Ingmar Bergman’s own obsession for depicting facial features in his films Good Time is also a non-stop action film and it’s 99 minutes fly by so quickly. The film’s depiction of realism and its soundtrack is what makes the film suspenseful and intense and its lack of abundance of GCI is what makes the action sequences feel more realistic, energetic and full of adrenaline.
The soundtrack of the film is written by Oneohtrix Point Never whose electronic music creates an atmosphere of suspense and desperation that saturates the film and becomes a vital part of the film’s narratives but the stand-out moment of the musical score is the last track which features Iggy Pop, a poignant and very sad song that comes after the erratic, energetic, chaotic moments in both the film’s narrative and soundtrack, the calm after the storm.
Josh and Ben Safdie have created a crime drama which is entertaining and poignant in equal measures, a far cry from other big budget Hollywood production that have a no-nonsense tough main character who faces very unrealistic obstacles (his daughter or wife or someone is being kidnapped) and with his particular sets of skills he eventually manages to defeat all the “bad” guys while remaining unscathed and saving the day. Good Time is one of the best films released in the summer of 2017, a season abundant with blockbusters and lack of original films, everything released in this period is either a sequel, a remake or prequel because Hollywood cannot pour money in an original idea as it poses risks that are not able to take. But if the script of Good Time was made with a bigger budget it would lose it authenticity, it would become a completely different film, a film full of explosions, expositions, multiple deaths and a happy end that is necessary for any big budget film lest someone is dissatisfied.