Brothers Josh and Benny Safdie are known for directing stylish and dark films, and with crime thriller Good Time, easily their most assured film to date, they’ve created one of the best looking and most exciting films of the past year.
A synth filled neon dream
When a film looks and sounds the way Good Time does, with its beautiful bright neon lighting and its synth-heavy soundtrack, it’s almost impossible not to immediately draw parallels with Drive. Yet Good Time feels like its own uniquely crafted piece of filmmaking, which of course it is. Following the story of small time crook Connie Nikas and his attempts to rescue his mentally handicapped brother Nick from jail, Good Time takes the viewer on a visually outstanding journey across New York as Connie encounters trouble at every turn.
The soundtrack is ever present and superbly fitting, with its 80s-like synth sounds seamlessly accompanying the truly thrilling story. Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronsteins’ script is immaculate, filled with suspense, thrills and humour; resulting in a highly intelligent piece of filmmaking that feels authentic and wholly unique. It’s almost impossible to fault the film technically, with stunning cinematography, great sound and suspenseful pacing, there’s not a second where it’s possible to take your eyes away from the screen.
A fascinating, fresh story told by faces
This year’s Best Actor race is currently wide open with a number of contenders, but Robert Pattinson’s formidable turn as the conflicted crook Connie is truly the first really striking performance of the year, and has rightly put his name on everyone’s lips as a big favourite. Pattinson brings everything to the role of Connie, and makes him one of cinema’s truly most contrasting and complex characters. Despite being funny, charming and silver-tongued, Connie is selfish and has little empathy, leading to severe consequences for other characters, yet there’s not a moment where you find yourself rooting against him, a testament to a wonderfully written and superbly acted character. For sure it’s at least Oscar nomination worthy if not a potential front runner, a real tour de force that truly exhibits Pattinson’s wide range and raw talent.
The way in which close-ups are used to express the emotion of the characters, notably with Benny Safdie’s small but moving portrayal of the mentally handicapped Nick and Connie’s pained yet panicked expressions, is truly a great way of storytelling as it captures the human element of the story perfectly. Though there are some gorgeous long shots from helicopter cameras following Connie’s every move, when given a closer look at all the characters, it certainly resonates more throughout the audience and enables a deeper connection with their own unique motivations. From it’s brilliantly written characters including a hilarious cameo from Barkhad Abdi, Good Time is clever and its exploration of motivations is marvellously done.
There’s simply so much to enjoy about Good Time that it propels itself into a real awards worthy picture and establishes itself as one of 2017’s best films. It’s technically faultless, suspenseful, stylish and superbly acted, with perhaps its only fault being a lack of focus on other characters, but that simply makes Pattinson’s Oscar worthy performance even more fascinating as the heavy weight of the story is effortlessly carried on his talented shoulders. A real crime thriller that is for sure a must watch and a dark horse in the race to the Oscars.
Words by Elliott Jones