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Leeds Film Festival Review: Good Time – “A low-budget but entertaining as hell heist-goes-wrong film”

Good Time has been making a big splash on the festival circuit, and it’s certainly not hard to see why. It’s a low-budget but entertaining as hell heist-goes-wrong film and feels like an impressive first film. However, it’s actually the Safdie brothers’ fourth feature film, and certainly their best—especially since their previous film, Heaven Knows What, was an insufferable film about smackheads. 

This new film is about two brothers, the mentally challenged Nick (Ben Safdie) and his older brother Constantine (Robert Pattinson), who do a bank robbery in broad daylight. Everything seems to be fine until an ink pack explodes in their getaway car in spectacular fashion. They just get out to clean up, but a cop car pulls up, Nick freaks, and soon the cops are in hot pursuit. Nick gets nabbed but Constantine gets away. Constantine has to get his brother out of prison and eventually a hospital, but very quickly the whole thing escalates, and involves LSD, closed amusement parks, mistaken identities and so on.

The film completely hinges on Pattinson’s performance, and given that fact that he hasn’t made a bad film since his the final Twilight role, he delivers. He does a pitch-perfect Brooklyn accent, looks the part, and acts it to a T. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Constantine’s much older girlfriend Corey, and as always is one of the most fearless actresses the US has ever had. Barkhad Abdi, who had a hard time after his debut role in Captain Phillips, seems to be hitting his stride with supporting roles in this and also Blade Runner 2049.

The biggest false move in the film may be the depiction of disability, which is intensified by Ben Safdie’s slack-jacked portrayal and the film’s final moments, which I found almost freakshow-like. I doubt that was the brothers’ intention at all, but maybe a disabled actor could’ve done wonders with the role instead. Despite these minor misgivings, it’s a high-octane surreal odyssey that plays like Dog Day Afternoon—if it had been directed by Gaspar Noé after a bender of cocaine and DMT. One of the film’s highlights is a very funny and clever nod to Pepe the Frog who in recent years was unfairly adopted by the “alt-right” as a symbol. It also boasts a shit hot score by electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never, who delivers one of the better ’80s-style synth scores in recent memory. Iggy Pop also sings the song “The Pure and the Damned,” which he did in collaboration with the composer, for the film’s final moments.

Good Time opens in UK cinemas on 17th November 2017.

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