Tropic Sprockets / Good Time

By Ian Brockway

The Safdie Brothers (Daddy Longlegs) latest project is “Good Time” a sharp crime drama reminicent of the work of Alan Parker (Midnight Express) and William  Friedkin. Though somewhat formulaic in its very edginess, given the amorality of its characters, the film is greatly helped by the snarling desperation of Robert Pattinson in the lead. There is no doubt the film will keep you guessing from beginning to end.

Connie (Pattinson) is a small time burglar and sociopath. He talks his mentally disabled brother Nick (Ben Safdie) into accompanying him in a bank robbery. Nick passively consents.

Things go smoothly. The brothers get a cab with a satchel of money only to have the bag explode with red dye. The car crashes and Nick is frozen with fear and shock. Connie gets his brother to the bathroom of a fast food pizza place where they attempt to remove the dye. The two  manage to leave undetected but when spotted by police. Nick panics, crashes into a glass door and is handcuffed, while Connie keeps running and escapes, knowing that his brother is in Riker’s Island  and won’t survive.

The brother vows to release Nick.

There has not been such an immoral character on film since Tommy Udo in “Kiss of Death,” though Connie loves his brother.

Connie gets into a series of unsavory situations: he inadvertently gets involved with a drug dealer (Buddy Duress), beats a security guard (Barkhad Abdi) to a pulp, and takes romantic advantage of a teenage girl (Taliah Webster).

Connie is quite the smooth talker.

The happenstance grows more and more hyper and harried with Connie trying to avoid disaster and spring his brother.

Jennifer Jason Leigh appears solidly as Corey, Connie’s lackluster girlfriend.

Though the nihilist tone has been evident in many films, most stirring is Nick’s devotion to his mean and emotionally-neutral brother during every carnivorous episode. Both Pattinson and Safdie highlight the cruelty of wanting to get ahead (albeit little), and the sadness in co-dependent behavior.

Write Ian at ianfree1@yahoo.com