- Emma Simmonds
- 6 October 2017
LFF 2017: Retro crime thriller starring Robert Pattinson as an ingenious and hapless crook
How many times does Robert Pattinson have to prove his acting chops in the wake of the Twilight juggernaut before the word 'revelation' ceases to apply? Following Cosmopolis, The Rover, Maps to the Stars, The Childhood of a Leader and The Lost City of Z, he exceeds expectations again in Good Time, an enjoyably grimy, 80s-infused, Queens-set crime thriller about a bank robber busting his gut to free his incarcerated brother.
With the work of John Carpenter, Michael Mann's Thief and Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon apparent inspirations, it's directed by siblings Benny and Josh Safdie (Heaven Knows What) and stars the former as Nick Nikas the mentally handicapped brother of the twitchy, seemingly no-good Connie (Pattinson). Acting as both his corrupter and carer, from the outset Connie shows himself to be deeply uncomfortable with attempts to integrate Nick into society, and when he coerces him into assisting with a robbery it sets into motion a chain of catastrophic events.
Connie is a man with his own moral code, judging other crooks he deems beneath him. He's a Wile E Coyote of a guy, endlessly improvising and adapting his plans but with the next fuck-up never too far away. This kinetic film almost moves too fast to contemplate, as it takes a lead from Connie's quick-thinking desperation (characters come and go, including those played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi), yet it works in enough detail to build a credible picture of criminality, of life on the fringes, and of brotherly love, with Pattinson and Safdie both superb.
One scrape after the next rattles by, but Good Time ends hopefully, albeit on a melancholic note. As Iggy Pop slowly sings us out (on Oneohtrix Point Never's 'The Pure and the Damned', a song written for the film), the final throes unleash a sadness hitherto only hinted at.
Screening on Thu 5 and Sun 8 Oct as part of the London Film Festival 2017. General release from Fri 17 Nov.