The Robert Pattinson we thought we knew? He’s long gone. Good Time represents a shift for the British actor, who turns in his best and most singular performance in this gritty underbelly thriller from the Safdie brothers.
The sign of a truly spectacular turn is when an actor transforms physically in every way. Pattinson’s crafts mannerisms, a way of bodily movement that informs the character. Pair that with his domineering New York accent, which builds a distinctly emotional chemistry with his brother (Benny Safdie), and Pattinson grasps hold of the audience’s eyes and doesn’t let go.
Benny Safdie does well too, playing a character with a mental disability in believable and emotional ways.
But after Pattinson, it’s Good Time‘s craftsmanship, from directors Benny and Josh Safdie, cinematographer Sean Price Williams and editors Benny Safdie and Ronald Bronstein (who also co-wrote the script with Josh Safdie), that stands out. The film is paced out with a never-ending verve, a sensory overload of quick cuts, constant neon colors and claustrophobic shots. For a film set at night and based in crime in New York, Good Time‘s tone is as fully defined as Pattinson’s character. The score, from Oneohtrix Point Never, is a barrage of synth that maintains the electric energy throughout.
And that pacing is also where the film encounters problems. Good Time is never poorly paced, but it’s not as efficient as it could’ve been. While the meaning of the story’s closure may be found in retrospect, the ideas should’ve been more profound and driven home in the moment, which would’ve required that efficiency. Essentially, Good Time feels as though it’s continuously building, but actually only builds to so much, leaving the audience with work to do to finish off the thematic arc.
But Good Time has too much going for it, offers up too much of a good time in the theaters for it to be passed up.