• Teresa Xie


I’d like to make this analogy: Good Time to Uncut Gems is The Squid and the Whale to Marriage Story. Although many critics would say otherwise, I think Good Time and The Squid and the Whale are better films than their more successful predecessors. While Noah Baumbach excels at painting the dynamic of a dysfunctional family, the Safdie brothers excel at building adrenaline junky characters who have a blindspot for how their reckless actions might affect others.

Good Time tells the story of two brothers named Connie (Robert Pattinson) and Nick (Benny Safdie), who has an intellectual disability. The two attempt to rob a bank wearing Halloween masks and a hoodie. At first, the operation seems to go smoothly. The bank teller retrieves a bag of money and the two escape without a trace. However, soon after hopping into a getaway car, a dye pack explodes and that’s when shit hits the fan. Although Nick is more of an accomplice than the operation’s “mastermind,” he is the one that gets caught. Connie spends the whole movie trying to free him, and eventually, himself.

I have a certain affection for black humor, which is largely why Pulp Fiction remains my all-time favorite film. Good Time was the first film I had seen in a while that was able to incorporate humor that doesn’t feel overly saturated. Whether it was Connie dying his hair while crashing at some random grandma’s house who he met on the bus back from the hospital, or an accidentally kidnapped character going on a tangent about why he’s so fucked up, Good Time struck a balance between building tension and appropriately timed comedy.

The cinematography of Good Time is perfectly gritty and feels like it was actually shot on film. Even when scenes are filled with bright neon colors, they are always masked with a dingy interrogation light feel. This only heightens the domino-like effects of Connie’s decisions, which are always impulsive and involve innocent casualties. The film touches on the issue of racism in our current system when Connie frames two innocent black people who are presumed to be the culprits simply because they are near the crime scene. Meanwhile, Connie, who looks far from innocent at this point, with his bleached blond hair and bloodshot eyes, is able to escape.

Throughout the film, we have great empathy for Connie’s brother, Nick, who truly believes that Connie will protect and find him. Connie, although set off with good intentions (if we ignore the fact that he robbed a bank), falls deeper and deeper into traps he sets for himself. At every step, he bandages his mistakes, using temporary solutions to fix long-term problems. Connie’s expanding tumbleweed of crimes is largely what makes Good Time so engaging and admirable to watch. It takes a mastermind to piece together a slew of moving pieces without taking away from the film’s initial plot line. At the very least, the Safdie brothers definitely managed to make Good Time a good time.

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