“Good Time” – The definition of resourceful is “having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.”
Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) is resourceful.
The definition of desperate is “feeling, showing, or involving a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad, that it is impossible to deal with.”
Connie Nikas is also desperate.
Beware of a resourceful, desperate man, because he is dangerous.
Directors Benny and Josh Safdie engineered a wildly stressful film that lurks in the grit and grime of an impossible situation, which features Connie as a resourceful, desperate man. “Good Time” is anything but one, but it successfully yanks the audience into Connie’s world and does not let up during his winding New York City journey, and his bastion of terrible decisions that only make his circumstances worse. Actually, every decision that Connie makes seems to be the only viable escape hatch from his immediate, horrible present, and to his credit, every judgment purchases him a small swathe of time until the next figurative roadblock stands in his way. This continues during the entire nerve-wracking 1-hour 40-minute runtime with a head pounding soundtrack that expresses itself as a purposely ugly mix of 80s new wave and modern industrial. The music completely fits Connie’s on-screen movements as a handheld camera follows him at a kinetic pace through various apartments and places of business, while he looks for spaces of temporary reprieve.
The picture begins with a psychiatrist (Peter Verby) speaking with a mentally handicapped patient, and the scene should be a quiet reprieve, but the young man answering questions is Connie’s brother, Nick (Benny Safdie), and he feels agitated. The doctor is only asking word association inquires, but Nick’s mistakenly looks for ulterior motives, and his temper simmers. Connie barges in and escorts Nick out of the building. Although Connie liberates his brother from the office, this is no rescue as Nick’s brother immediately places him in harm’s way.
Without revealing the details, let’s just say that Connie and Nick commit a crime, a bad result follows and more appear under the aforementioned downward spiral. What is striking is not necessarily the dreadful outcomes that befall Connie, but how he manipulates and exploits the person immediately standing to his left or right. The innocent – but flawed – individuals within his proximity become collateral damage to get him through the next minute, the next hour. In fact, about 70 minutes into “Good Time”, it becomes difficult to remember how Connie has reached his current obstacle, because the past moments run together in a collection of ugly encounters.
Pattinson, Safdie and the supporting cast all buy in to the problematic premise and bathe in its brutal story arc. Pattinson, however, is the conductor of the felonious opera, and buries himself in this character constructed of little moral fiber. Although Connie acts like a sociopath, he also carries a depth of humanity with his brother, and during some moments, one stops to wonder if Connie’s fate would have been much different in an alternative universe of a nurturing environment. In this one, however, Connie is resourceful and desperate, and that makes him dangerous.
⭐⭐⭐ 1/2 out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Image credits: A24; Trailer credits: A24