Good Time

Good Time ★★★★

Much like Heaven Knows What, the Safdie Brothers' latest takes what is essentially an over-familiar premise and an aesthetic which might otherwise not be of much interest to me at all at this point (namely "gritty" handheld verite "realism") and manages to elevate them by virtue of sheer accumulated detail. Yes, we've all seen films about lowlife criminal-types frantically scrounging to come up with a certain amount of cash within a limited amount of time before, too many to mention perhaps (although Nicholas Winding Refn's debut Pusher in particular came to mind here, which in turn belongs to a lineage reaching at least as far back as Cassavetes' Killing of a Chinese Bookie, another clear reference point).

Yet the Safdies nonetheless manage to imbibe this generic material with an intensely visceral immediacy (as many others have noted, watching this film is a palpably, relentlessly hectic experience), and an acutely specific sense of place (in spite of the fact that we don't actually get much in the way of typical establishing shots). In the process, they manage to create what is clearly the most accomplished film of their careers thus far, helped in no small part by Robert Pattinson's undeniable star power. Unquestionably, it is Pattinson's presence which is responsible for getting the film a wide release, but to the Sadie's credit, weirdly enough, the film actually feels like it belongs in a multiplex in it's own idiosyncratic way.

I've heard the Safdies mention in interviews their desire to make "termite art", and while their aesthetic isn't quite what I would normally associate with the term, in the particular case of Good TIme it actually feels appropriate. This is a deeply propulsive, compelling watch which at the same time remains quite strange and unique due to the lived-in specificity of its milieu and the actors' performances, many of which are easily as compelling and memorable as Pattinson's committed turn as un utterly unsympathetic, seething ball of oblivious entitlement (not to jump on the bandwagon, but holy shit is this film clearly dealing with race at just about every turn). Speaking of which, surely I can't be the only person who felt like Pattinson was channeling Vincent Gallo at times?

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