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Good Time

Year: 2017
Production Co: Elara Pictures
Studio: A24
Director: Benny Safdie/Josh Safdie
Writer: Ronald Bronstein/Josh Safdie
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster

I'm sure I say it every time Robbert Pattinson or Kristen Stewart are in a movie I review, but however talented you think they are, they certianly haven't rested on their laurels or endlessly traded on their cachet and appeal from Twilight. Pattinson in particular seems determined not just to tell stories, but to delve down rabbit holes of style and tone that he (and we) have never seen before, and Good Time is just as interesting and hard to categorise as Maps to the Stars or Cosmopolis.

He plays Connie Nikas, s small time hood in New York who only wants to steal some money and take care of his mentally handicapped brother Nik (Benny Safdie, who also directs). As the opening sequence of Nik being interviewed by a kindly psychologist shows, he's in the best posible hands, and Connie is only going to ruin both their lives when he bursts in and insists on taking Nik with him.

They execute the robbery with suspicious ease, and the reason why soon becomes apparent when they're hiding out in a pizza store bathroom as the anti-theft dye explodes in their faces. Connie desperately tries to hide the money and give the cops the slip, but he can't wrangle his brother fast enough along with everything else and he only just gets away, leaving Nik behind.

The most interesting thing about Good Time is that the same plot could easily be the basis for a broad comedy. After his brother is put in a group cell and badly beaten because nobody has any idea or cares about his mental illness, he's put in hospital. Overnight, Connie cases the hospital and eventually manages to sneak his brother out past the cops guarding him, hiding him in the home of a young African American girl, Crystal (Taliah Webster).

I realise none of the above sounds like the stuff of comedy, but when the man he's put in the other room wakes up and Connie realises it's not Nik at all because he was unconscious and covered in bandages it sparks off a comedy of thriller errors as he tries to put things right, getting one step further away from his goal every time.

The guy tells Connie about a stash of LSD he's left at an amusement park but when they go and try and retrieve it to share in the proceeds after selling it, they attract the attention of the security guard (Barkhad Abdi) while searching the darkened rides, Connie beating the man unconscious before the cops come so he can put on the uniform as pose as the guard himself.

Now in possession of the guy's wallet, they go to his apartment to arrange the sale of the drugs, neither of them having the brains to realise that the security guard would wake up eventually and that his apartment would be one of the first places they'd send the cops to.

It looks on the surface like a bit of an art film, but there's a definite story and it belongs unarguably in the crime drama genre. Pattinson's presence makes you feel it'll be another avant garde headscratcher like Cosmopolis was but it's far more successful as a story than most of his post- Twilight work.

None of which is to say there aren't edgy or wacky elements – they're actually just as strongly present as the plot itself. One is the very left of centre soundtrack, which sounds like it was composed entirely from 80s video distributor idents. Another is the strong visual motifs, like the period of Connie and Nik running around looking like they've been painted red thanks to the anti-theft device the banks puts in their robbery bag.

It's a genre thriller that offers much more style than the usual genre trappings.

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