A minor classic of crime and love.
Directors: Benny Safdie (Heaven Knows What), Josh Safdie (Heaven Knows What)
Screenplay: Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein (Frownland)
Cast: Robert Pattinson (The Lost City of Z), Benny Safdie
Runtime: 1 hr 40 min.
by John DeSando
“I think something very important is happening and it's deeply connected to my purpose.” Connie (Robert Pattinson)
The depth in the heist-gone-wrong Good Time is the way the director brothers Safdie take us through the seedy side of NYC and the fraught love between Connie and his mentally disabled brother, Nick (Benny Safdie). These two are not bright enough to carry off a heist, proven by Connie’s clumsily eluding NYPD and continuing to search for a pot of gold that will give him and his brother the peaceful life they are not meant for.
Here is a heist movie with a heart and enough cinematic savvy to make it an instant classic.
Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men lingers behind the devoted brothers, and Martin Scorses’s Mean Streets and Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon provide the paradigm for clueless hoods confronting the underlife in their daily lives. In fact, interesting characters like mothers and minorities dance out of scenes almost as fast as they enter. Yet naturalism pervades the proceedings as different lowlifes and poor minorities come and go the way they would in NYC at night in the world of thieves and good but poor people.
Corey Ellman (Jennifer Jason-Leigh) is Connie’s sometime girlfriend, who supplies money and hope for a vacation to Puerto Vallarta, neither of which is destined to happen. The actress is so fine, as she always is in indies, that her vanishing seems normal under the circumstances and lamentable for the audience.
Sequences such as the mayhem in an amusement park and a hospital teeter on the surreal while the frenetic action continues apace. The directors are geniuses with the close-ups, perhaps the dominant proxemic of the film. Much credit must go to Sean Price Williams’ cinematography, which could have been the standard jittery hand held if it weren’t so elegantly moving the characters through the night with frenetic abandon and inevitable doom.
Rob Pattinson has come a long way from the Twilight series, being the actor I am sure he wanted to be beyond his somber character in the famous series. Pattinson is the center of the action, withstanding the tyranny of the close up and a character so crazy with love for his brother that we root for Connie although he’s a small-time hood without a real plan.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com