“Good Time”

 

            It's an ironic title, because nobody is having a good time here.  This is about things starting to go wrong and just getting worse from there.  And nobody knows what's going to happen next, either.

            Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) first presents us with a guy we might like:  he's obviously concerned about his mentally-impaired brother, Nick (Bennie Safdie), who, in the opening scene, is being given some sort of mental test, but it feels more like harrassment.  Connie pulls Nick out of the counselor's office and takes him away, presumably to some safe and caring and non-stressful environment.

            But that's exactly what Bennie doesn't get.  Connie manages to get them both in trouble, then they're on the run, but Nick is very ill-equipped for that, and manages to get captured.

            Connie now turns his attention to “rescuing” Nick, except that Connie doesn't seem to know how to stay out of trouble himself.  He tries to turn to a (former?) girlfriend, Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who's almost as marginalized herself.  Then there's the reluctant grandmother and the innocent teenager and the clueless ex-con and the manic security guard, all ending up, appropriately, in a house-of-horrors-type amusement park.  Creepy images abound, but despite all the jangled motion of the hand-held cameras, we remain focused on this descent into the abyss of fools.

            Robert Pattinson delivers a mesmerizing performance as the increasingly frustrated desperado.  We admire his resourcefulness at the same time as we're offput by his shallow callousness, and breezy willingness to deceive and manipulate. 

            Bennie Safdie co-directs, with his brother Josh Safdie, also a co-writer.  It's a harrowing tour on the seamy side of the urban desolation, which seems remarkably devoid of any grace or redemption.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                  How much would you be willing to sacrifice to rescue a sibling?

2)                  How would you respond if an old flame asked you for money?

3)                  When has helping someone else turned out to be a bad idea?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association