There’s a long, tight close-up on Robert Pattinson near the end of “Good Time” that’s fascinating in its quiet subtlety, in the way that we seem to be seeing a man slowly sinking into darkness. As Connie (Constantine), a young man at the end of a very long night in Queens full of dangerous crimes and terrible decisions, it’s as if we’re seeing his eyes grow dimmer, his expression slipping imperceptibly into despair; he’s fallen down a hole from which he won’t emerge, and he knows it.
And if you watch this thinking, “wow, he’s so much better here than he was in the Twilight movies,” so be it. Maybe all those years of vampire sparkle and gooey lust contributed to the actor we’re seeing here; a weird, very public acting school, from which he’s now confidently rebelling.
“Good Time,” directed by the brother team of Josh and Benny Safdie (Benny also co-stars in the film, as Connie’s mentally challenged brother Nick), doesn’t quite live up to the performance at its center. At its essence, the film is kind of Scorsese light; a grimy crime drama in which Connie and Nick try to rob a bank, but in the aftermath Nick gets arrested. Connie — whose desperate affection and protectiveness toward his brother gives his character nuance — determines to bust him out. His plan, need I say, is not a particularly good one.
It’s an odd, unpleasant little movie, with too-brief appearances by name actors like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”), and too many scenes filmed in such dim light you’re not sure exactly what’s happening. But the Safdies show a real knack for chase scenes — there’s one toward the end, filmed from above, that’s breathtaking — and for putting the right actor in the central role. Pattinson keeps you interested, even when the movie’s tone and pace wobbles. Edward who?
Directed by: Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi.
Running time: 100 minutes
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