2017; dirs. Josh and Benny Safdie
Writers: Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Safide, Barkhad Abdi and Buddy Duress
Good Time is a great many things, but a “good time” is probably the most debatable description one can give.
Ben and Josh Safdie have created a modern dystopia using classic film language to communicate its ideals in Good Time, like if Scorsese was given bad acid and thrown into the wild of his own urban nightmare with a series of Hitchcockian MacGuffins as the coup de grace. Good Time is a horrorshow of close up shots, claustrophobic settings, questionable content and terrible people, drenched in bright neon and combined with a deep, reverberating synth score that cuts into the soul, leaves your skin crawling and your body at consistent unease.
Equal parts dispelling the myths of “earn your pay” and espousing the improvisational “make your money your way” mentalities, the Safdie brothers have composed a violent and vibrant symphony of terror that is as haunting as it is relevant. The horror of Good Time is that this world is very real for some Americans, and the unapologetic deconstruction of Pattinson’s Constantine is a living wise old saying; you’ve made your bed, now lie in it.
Much like the real world, we watch in slow motion as every bad decision is decided and enacted. And, like hindsight is so good at reminding us, we see opportunities for something of merit to be made out of these awful choices, only to witness more bad decisions make a bad situation worse, for a total of 100 minutes, until there’s nothing left to salvage – except the very outcome our misguided sons of liberty had sojourned to avoid in the first place.
Pattinson delivers the performance of the 21st century, seamlessly capturing the facial microexpressions and body language that parallel the dastardly opportunistic nature his character demands. Every ounce of charm exudes from his inner being in order to deliver what could be the most natural and convincing performance of the year. The visceral content of his crimewave’s snowball effect is only exacerbated by his fervent dedication to the craft, turning Good Time into a massive one-two punch you didn’t see coming.
Good Time is a necessary evil in today’s world. Art is – more often than not – a reflection of its artists, and even more so of its time. The current political climate is one of tension and unease, where opportunity is either handed down or made by one’s own design. More often than not, the real world fights back against these designs, and the consequences are far more trouble than its worth.
Another wise old saying comes to mind; it’s always easier to stay out of trouble than it is to get out of trouble. Perhaps we can all learn something from that.