REVIEW: ‘Good Time’

After a heist goes awry, a bank robber spends a night trying to free his mentally ill brother from being sent to Riker’s Island prison.

How often have you stopped yourself from gaining information about a movie in the faint hope it will somehow improve the experience of watching it, coughing up for a cinema ticket with only the film’s poster as a reference point? For me, the answer is rarely. Yet this is how I found myself watching ‘Good Time’.

My first real interaction with the film was listening to the outstanding soundtrack by Oneohtrix Point Never released by Warp a few months ago. So perfectly synchronised is this icy OST with proceedings that it’s practically laced into the grain of the film – dappled into the lighting and arpeggiating out of the street scenes. Unlike an obviously ‘cool’ soundtrack like ‘Drive’, it feels like the film was placed over the soundtrack rather than vice-versa, although that’s not to say the visuals don’t provide parity to the sounds.

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‘Good Time’ is a Robert Pattinson film, but before that scares you away, you’ll do well to remember his stellar performance in ‘The Rover’ alongside the more endearing moments from his recent David Cronenberg dalliances. His role here as protective brother and likeable scumbag Connie Nikas really makes the grade, and without his underplayed performance, ‘Good Time’ would be in danger of becoming a try-hard fugitive yarn with a protagonist we struggle to root for.

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Think back to the worst night of your life, all the poor decisions you made and how you somehow survived them. That’s essentially what ‘Good Time’ is: a gap of lost hours where one thing leads to another and only the love for those closest to you and a desperate need to make things right drives you forward.

It’s a roller coaster. A loop-da-loop of human emotion where each life-affirming high leads to a soul-crushing low. Every bad choice Connie makes here compounds misery and despair, and Pattinson ensures we can relate to every one (even if most of us have never robbed a bank). Never shying away from direct violence, the sudden jolts of anger in ‘Good Times’ are few but incredibly powerful, and when they do occur, it’s not shock or disgust we feel, but relief that Connie has overcome peril and ‘beat’ the ‘baddie’.

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At certain points, ‘Good Time’ reminded me of last year’s shot-in-one-take ‘Victoria’, albeit with a heavier lens and more direct motive. We’re given enough in the 100 minute runtime to understand the films intent without the saccharine being poured on quite as thickly as it is in many similar films. It’s funny, odd and surprising, with at least three moments literally dragging me to the edge of my seat. Isn’t that about all you can hope for in this modern cinema age?

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Told with a sense of humour, a touch of irony, and a real-life edge that’s both relatable and thoughtful, ‘Good Time’ is ultimately memorable as a study of family ties, and behind the twists and turns, a film about love.

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