A pulsating Oneohtrix Point Never score can’t make up for the flaws of this shallow and incurious pulp feature about a bank robbery gone wrong, followed by a chaotic, adrenaline-fuelled descent into the night. Directors Josh and Benny Safdie make sure that most scenes zip along at a frantic pace, although the moments of pause generate greater interest. But these breaks in play are overwhelmed by the desire to create mania and manufacture tension. The impulsion to rush rings false; what is at stake in this film is never elucidated, and the whipped-up excitement is for little if there’s nothing to care about.
Robert Pattinson gives a gruff performance as Connie, a confused and rebellious soul who adores his autistic brother Nick, played by co-director Benny Safdie. Nick is somewhere far along the spectrum and Connie’s desire to help him is informed by dodgy choices and a frank disregard for his safety. The opening intrigues: a well-meaning but slightly glib doctor plays a word association game with Nick, who is monosyllabic and inscrutable. Connie storms in, tears his brother out of the room and they’re off and away. The bank job is entertainingly staged, and the consequences of this act – Nick is arrested – set off events that sprawl across a dark, dingy New York. Connie attempts to rescue his brother from hospital, and inexplicably manages to worm his way into the house of Crystal, a 16-year-old girl (a relaxed performance from Taliah Webster) who lives with her intensely sleepy grandmother. But a case of mistaken identity brings another lowlife into the mayhem, a carefree, criminal degenerate played by an excellent Buddy Duress. The question turns into whether Connie can keep up his aspartame urgency, bail out his brother and escape the circling authorities.
There is fun to be had, and a particular scene where Connie and Crystal get high is amusingly well observed. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi both make fleeting appearances and more the shame that greater use wasn’t found for these actors. Nick, the film’s strongest character, disappears for most of the final act before returning in the epilogue. This seems a mistake, and so abruptly showing his potentially new life, free from past inhibitions, appears cheap and mishandled. There’s an undoubtedly likeable energy to this mess of a picture, only it covers up an acute lack of insight and feeling.
Good Time does not have a UK release date yet.
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