Robert Pattinson in Good Time (Photo: A24)
*** (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Josh & Benny Safdie
STARS Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie
It took a few years, but once the silly fanboy snickering subsided, Kristen Stewart was able to move on from the Twilight series and reclaim her title as an accomplished actress with such credits as Camp X-Ray, Personal Shopper and particularly Clouds of Sils Maria (for which she became the first American actress to ever win France’s Oscar equivalent, the Cesar Award). While it’s unclear whether Taylor Lautner will enjoy a similar renaissance — his recent efforts have consisted of dopey thrillers and Adam Sandler stinkbombs — Stewart’s other Twilight stud, Robert Pattinson, appears to be on the right path with his selection of interesting roles in various indie flicks.
Pattinson’s latest effort in this vein is Good Time, a striking drama directed by sibling filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie. With Josh co-scripting with Ronald Bronstein and Benny co-starring with Pattinson, the brothers certainly have their DNA all over this project, and while their previous pictures are known only to the most dedicated cineastes, this one should allow them more exposure as they move forward.
Good Time finds RPatz and BSaf respectively starring as Connie Nikas and his younger brother Nick. Connie is a small-time hustler and crook while Nick is mentally impaired, and while Connie loves his bro, he doesn’t always do what’s best for him. Case in point: Connie elects to rob a bank and decides that his slow-witted sibling would make an excellent accomplice. Instead, Nick ends up getting arrested following the heist, and Connie must figure out a way to spring him from jail.
What follows is one of those all-night-long odysseys that’s taxing for the characters but weirdly fascinating for the viewer (think Martin Scorsese’s After Hours or even Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle). Connie Nikas isn’t likable in the least, but there is a sliver of redemption in his single-minded devotion to his brother. Yet what makes Connie such a compelling character is that he’s completely delusional about his own abilities and intelligence. Here’s a man who thinks he’s smart, but situation after situation proves that he’s anything but. This is amusing enough, but then the second half introduces a new character in the form of Ray (Buddy Duress), another petty criminal. If anything, Ray is even thicker than Connie, and their scenes together are among the movie’s best. It’s like Dumb and Dumber — only better and better.