The fraternal directing duo of Josh and Benny Safdie make urban odysseys that flow with the quicksilver currents of New York City. You can feel the gum-stained pavement under your feet. You can smell the Q train.
The Safdies were already an electric new energy in cinema – streetwise and scuzzy – but in the ironically titled caper “Good Time,” they have quickened their already kinetic pace. This movie, wild and erratic, is downright blistering. The opening credits, as if rushing to catch up, don’t appear until well into the film, after all hell has already broken loose.
The star of “Good Time” is Robert Pattinson, and it goes without saying that this is a long way off from “Twilight.”.
In “Good Time,” he plays Connie, one of two brothers from Queens. The other, Nick (played by co-director Benny Safdie), is mentally challenged. With no parents apparently on the scene, Connie is Nick’s keeper, and a highly questionable one at that. In the opening scene, he pulls Nick out of a psychiatrist session, admonishing him as they hustle down the hallway that it’s not where he belongs.
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Connie believes in his brother – too much, you could say. Not moments after fleeing the doctor, he’s ordering Nick to put on a mask – a cheap, rubbery black face – and leading him into a bank robbery at a teller window. They emerge with $60,000 in cash but soon after their livery cab driver picks them up, a dye pack explodes and the brothers spill out of the car in a cloud of red smoke.
From here, it’s a nonstop freefall.
In the annals of the crime film, the pulpy “Good Time” is roughly the opposite of something like the uber-professional thieves of “Heat.”
If there’s a knock on “Good Time,” it’s that its sheer eagerness for anything unconventional comes at the cost of something deeper.
But what a trip it is.
☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Benny Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress.
Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie.
Running time: 100 minutes.
Rating: R (language throughout, violence, drug use and sexual content).