Good Time

Good Time ★★★★½

#5 on my Top 10 Films of 2017

The most breathless movie of the year, which is just the way I like ’em. Josh and Benny Safdie’s 2015 film “Heaven Knows What” was an uncompromisingly real look at heroin addiction with some truly striking telephoto lensing, but in the end I questioned whether its relevance was self-fulfilling, whether the film was ultimately reducible to its success as an exercise. I may have walked out with a better understanding of addiction and a greater recognition that it was taking place in the urban city around me, but to what end? “Good Time,” while in ways more removed from reality (it’s a fictional story, as opposed to “Heaven Knows What,” which was based on the real experiences of its lead actress), ironically feels more immediate.

A big part of this success is the way the Safdies leverage familiar genre tropes to tell a story that gets at some of the same themes of class and social welfare as “Heaven Knows What,” but ultimately make the story of brothers who rob a bank (one of them mentally challenged) feel more accessible and therefore more relatable. The recognizable and engaging hallmarks of the heist-gone-wrong genre, in other words, put us in the shoes of characters we otherwise wouldn’t dare identify with (no matter how powerful Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie’s lead performances). Not only does this identification give life to the movie’s political consciousness, challenging the viewer to confront what we’d rather not confront, it in turn builds on the rich tradition of social commentary in genre filmmaking. And it’s just a damn cool chase movie, with a breakneck pace, surprising twists, and the most intense film score of the year.