This week’s featured movie, whole heartedly recommended by inertia, is Good Time. The film is a dark and twisted take on the classic heist trope, set in a gritty yet colourful New York City. Released in 2017, the movie was a bit of a breakout for the Safdie brothers who have recently gone on to direct the widely popular Uncut Gems in 2019. It is clear to see why this film kickstarted the duo’s career, very rarely have I seen such an unsettling movie that still feels ultimately human. The unusual twist of the heist at the centre of the film is that the perpetrators are two brothers. One of these brothers suffers from some form of mental or social disability and the other appears to be manipulating him into this criminal enterprise.
The relationship between these brothers is just as much at the focal point of the movie as the heist. ‘Connie’, played by Robert Pattinson, and ‘Nick’, played by Bennie Safdie, plan this robbery in a hair-brained vision of making millions and never having to work again. This predictably fails and results in Nick, the disabled brother, being separated from Connie and left to fend for himself in police custody. The idea of a disabled relative being stranded and alone without help is one that I found troubling. This situation is only exacerbated by the fact that this person has been manipulated into committing a serious crime and is now facing an incredibly uncertain future. There are points in the film where you wish that you could hug Nick as he fails to understand what is happening to him and his situation drastically worsens.
All of the time that Nick is suffering alone, Connie is working hard to be reunited with his brother. There is clearly a great deal of guilt eating away at him for ever involving his disabled brother in this mess. In a way, Connie finds himself equally stranded- on the run from the law with nowhere to turn. In his attempts to make bail for his brother the list of his crimes grows. With every last-ditch effort to be the hero he only makes things worse. The scale of his mistakes increases as there is a trail of monumental fuckups left in his wake as he stumbles around New York. The delirium of Connie is palpable as he grows desperate and as the stakes increase with every passing moment, unsure if Nick will be able to survive incarceration due to his lack of fundamental communication skills.
This edge-of-your-seat masterpiece really is a rollercoaster from start to finish. Both amazing soundtrack by Oneohtix Point Never and the tension don’t let up and there is hardly time to breathe in between bitingly tense scenes. The beautiful grit of New York at night is portrayed brilliantly by the Safdie brothers, as they also managed in their later film Uncut Gems. Good Time is a modern classic for me and stands right up there among the impressive catalogue of A24 films that include such titles as Midsommar, The Lighthouse and Moonlight. Watching such a gripping thriller it can often be hard to keep in mind the human appeal of the characters, but in this movie you constantly find yourself in the shoes of Nick and Connie, constantly thinking what you would do.
Words by Ewan Blacklaw