Good Time is a lucid fever dream, coated in cool neon and splattered with pints of blood and sweat. It’s so potent you can nearly smell the gashes and bruises of Benny Safdie, the sticky palms of Robert Pattinson’s small time criminal. The film is a walking case of insomnia, existing purely in the sensation of still being awake when your mind has already shut down. It devotes itself fully not just to capturing an experience but to being an experience in and of itself.
The film follows Connie Nikas, a degenerate criminal who fashions himself as a Robin Hood, his crimes morally justifiable because his brother Nick is mentally disabled. Connie enlists Nick on a bank robbery but when the 5-0 show up, it’s Nick who ends up with his hands behind his back and face on the pavement. Nick gets sent to Rikers, where his mental handicap makes him a prime target of physical abuse. Connie then must get $10,000 in a short amount of time to bail his brother out, with the police closely behind on his tail.
You never root so badly for a character to fail as much as Connie. He isn’t a protagonist or a hero or even an anti-hero, he’s the unfortunate soul who we must share our time with, the leech whose moral compass is so off kilter he could justify killing his own grandmother if he came out ahead. It’s a phenomenal effort from Pattinson, making us despise him more and more as every horrible decision, every poorly-constructed plan pushes him deeper into his own grave.
But this film wouldn’t achieve its lucid, ephemeral quality if it weren’t for two groups: the Safdie brothers and composer Oneohtrix Point Never. Shooting primarily in dimly-lit rooms and nighttime landscapes illuminated by neon lights, the Safdies created a distinct feel with their movie, a strange, pulsating aura that glistens off the screen. But Oneohtrix is responsible for mood, utilizing synthesizers as a means of disorientation, creating music that’s both futuristic and basic. His simple tones carry a complex harmony, creating a jarring but strangely pleasant experience for the ears. With Good Time, Oneohtrix and the Safdies together created a feat for the senses, a melodious chorale of sight and sound.