Friday, July 28, 2017

Fantasia '17 Film Review - Good Time

The Safdie brothers Josh and Benny where many hats and hate an imageless screen when they are working on a film. They direct, write, act and have their hands in the score normally with the seedy edges of New York City as their canvas. Robert Pattinson liked their method and reached out to make a film together. Safdie regular Buddy Duress had just got out of prision with a story to tell that could be the basis for a film. From the mixing of these elements comes Good Time.

Connie Nikas' (Robert Pattinson) brother Nick (Benny Safdie) has a hearing impairment and mental issues. At the opening are tight close up scenes of Nick as he is attempting word association tasks with psychiatric hospital therapist (Peter Verby). The close ups show the angst in Nick's face over the questions as the therapist tries to pull out more and more information to Nick's growing agitation. Connie bursts into the room declaring that Nick does not need this treatment or this place taking him out of the building leaving the protesting therapist behind.

Then were right at a bank with Nick and Connie sporting African American masks hoddies and sunglasses. They rob a teller using a note demanding $65,000 with a minor comedic hitch. The pair seem to get away then a die pack explodes that starts off a chain of events that sees Nick landing in Rikers Island with a desperate Connie thinking on his feet trying to do anything he can to get Nick out before something critical occurs.

Josh Safdie and regular writing partner Ronald Bronstein craft a narrative that is equal part dialogue and action driven. The peak verbal exchange occurs in the bail bondsman shop. Connie arrives with his spinner girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as she's trying to put the remaining $10,000 collateral on her mom's credit card. Connie is talking to the bail bondsman urging him to get this done tonight. The Bail bondsman is speaking to his contact at the court house to see if this can be done as he discusses the status of the payment with his wife while she's investigating Corey's card issues. Corey calls and yells at her mom for blocking the card in-between she asks Connie if they are still going to go away if posting bond falls through.

Connie Nikas is Robert Pattinson's best film role to date. He nails the local New York dialect, is both manic and calm, comforting and violent while encouraging his brother with positive reinforcement at every turn. Benny Safdie does double duty co-directing and acting. He slides comfortably into the role as the mentally challenged hearing impaired Benny. Being the character as his director's mind thinks of correct coverage and angles for the scene. Jennifer Jason Leigh is solid as always as Connie's high strung girlfriend Corey. Look to Safdie muse Buddy Duress for a wonderful turn as Ray. He provides several comedic moments as the authentic foul mouth ex-con whose the subject of mistaken identity seemingly in the wrong place all of the time.

Good Time is a gritty grainy gripping urban heist gone wrong film set in the bowels of New York City. The do it all Safdie's hit all the right notes with their 4th offering. Robert Pattinson turns in his best on screen performance surrounded by a strong supporting cast. The acting is tight with the right balance of violence including one of the most subtle bank robbery scenes with nary a spoken word.  It's a film that I can strongly recommend.

*** 1/2 Out of 4.

Good Time | Joshua and Bennie Safdie | U.S.A. | 2017 |100 Minutes.

Tags: Brothers, Hearing Impairment, Mental Illness, Bank Robbery, Dye Pack, LSD, Amusement Park, Rikers Island.

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