Within the grubby, squirrelly, one-crazy-night New York crime drama Good Time, Robert Pattinson disappears below a ratty haircut, a mangy beard, and a thick glaze of animal desperation. His character, a petty criminal named Connie Nikas, spends nearly each second on display operating into or out of bother, and the star wears that frazzled frenzy—that state of fixed back-against-the-wall anxiousness—like one other layer of his dishevelled wardrobe. What we’re seeing, within the mad scramble of this outlaw dirtbag, is a profession transformation. Stripping away nearly all traces of movie-star glamour to disclose the bare, nervy expertise beneath, Pattinson lastly bursts out of the chrysalis of his pin-up boy celeb. The metamorphosis from YA heartthrob into electrifying character actor is full.
Like his one-time co-star Kristen Stewart, Pattinson has been course-correcting away from Twilight for years—permitting David Cronenberg to twist his star energy into unusual new shapes, logging eccentric supporting performances in movies like The Rover and James Grey’s The Misplaced Metropolis Of Z. However Good Time, directed by the loudly underground sibling auteurs Josh and Benny Safdie, appears expressly tailor-made to showcase his underutilized depth. Pattinson seems in nearly each scene of the film, starting with the primary one, during which Connie barges into an workplace the place a specialist is assessing the developmental disabilities of his sullen, monosyllabic brother, Nick (Benny Safdie himself). Connie is fiercely protecting of Nick, nevertheless it’s shortly clear that he doesn’t at all times do what’s greatest for him. Living proof, the 2 are subsequent seen getting into a financial institution, lifelike rubber masks pulled tightly over their faces, in a theft scene that’s nearly unbearably tense in its tunnel imaginative and prescient.
Issues don’t go as deliberate. Connie escapes by the pores and skin of his enamel. Nick isn’t so fortunate. Most of Good Time unfolds over the hours that observe, as Pattinson’s small-time hustler tries to determine a strategy to get his brother out of the new water he bought him into. Connie, as Pattinson performs him, is a quick-on-his-feet bullshit artist, and the actor lets us see not simply his survival-mode stress but additionally the improvisational spark of his mind—the press click on click on of turning wheels behind his eyes, as he weasels his manner out of each new dilemma. At first, Connie simply plans to coerce his smitten girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh, amusingly and type of sadly enjoying a grown lady with the emotional maturity of a teen) to place the $10,000 bail on her mom’s bank card. However when Nick is moved from Rikers to Elmhurst Hospital after a battle within the clink, our hero decides to bust him out as an alternative (an episode with a delayed and really impressed punchline), and the film spins off into an odyssey of foibles, bouncing the character throughout boroughs, from frying pans to fires, via a type of scuzzier After Hours.
This may sound like uncharted territory for the Safdie brothers, who specialise in proudly janky, digressive New York character items. However simply as their breakthrough, Heaven Is aware of What, was a freshly idiosyncratic spin on the habit drama, Good Time funnels a crackerjack style state of affairs via the peculiar particulars of their model: the shaggy storytelling, the love for twitchy misfits from NYC‘s underbelly, the alternately seductive and oppressive blare of an digital rating (on this case, by Oneohtrix Level By no means, whose hypnotic, feverish tango of synths and guitar provide the film a retro Tangerine Dream vibe). A part of the great enjoyable of Good Time is the way it marries a bootleg Michael Mann urgency to an older, grungier species of NYC film. (From the fleabag backdrops to the fringe-dwelling characters, a Safdies manufacturing by no means offers us a romantic or upscale New York.) However there’s additionally the thrilling unpredictability—the way in which the plot retains zigging if you anticipate it to zag.
At a sure level, Good Time turns into about as exhausting as any actual up-all-night misadventure. As if trying to upstage the abrasiveness of their very own characters, the Safdies seize every thing in unflattering telephoto close-ups—a confrontational and actually in-your-face capturing technique. However their boldest gamble is constructing this mess of exploits round such a belligerent, blatantly egocentric protagonist: Connie, in his reckless flight via the evening, has a manner of fucking over everybody he encounters, from the teenage lady (Taliah Webster) whose automotive he commandeers to a hapless, fast-talking knucklehead (Buddy Duress) who hilariously stops the film chilly with an anecdote about his personal troubles. Solely an intense brotherly devotion redeems this flawed specimen—and the Safdies, who know a bit of one thing in regards to the topic, are unsentimental sufficient to see his specific household bond as fairly the double-edged sword. After all, they had been additionally good sufficient to entrust the function to Pattinson, who’s inconceivable to take your eyes off, whilst Good Time gleefully pushes in on his sweaty, uncharacteristically splotchy mug. He’s by no means seemed worse or been higher.