Good Time gives Robert Pattinson easily the best part he’s ever played, a fever-brained small-time crook in New York, who has no kind of master plan, just a series of quick initiatives. Directors the Safdie brothers,Benny and Josh – previously best-known for their street-savvy junkie saga “Heaven Knows What” have injected the film with a shot of restless narrative dynamism. We start not with him, but on an uncomfortably intense close-up of his brother Nick (Benny Safdie), a brute of a guy with learning difficulties, in mid therapy session. Connie bursts in and takes him straight off to rob a bank. The sequence is grueling, but it’s funny, too.
The general stress levels are intense, and the sound score keeps bashing you around. Connie (Pattinson) is a weirdo, but not too much of one to ever lose our curiosity. He’s an opportunist with as many killer instincts as bad ideas. Pattinson rises his way through the movie, saying some truly ridiculous things. His sudden decision to dye his hair is deeply funny, and a twist that’s sprung involving the bandages on someone’s face is so cleverly nested it makes you laugh out loud.
The Safdies are certainly offering a love/hate-it style proposition, above all with the infernal sound grinding away. It’s Pattinson here who manages to centre and save it, stripping himself free of artificial mannerism and working beautifully with the non-professionals bulking out the cast. The film’s last third lets it down, in part because the point of view shifts away from Connie at damaging situations. Good time is a good, intense and explosive movie.