Directed by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Written by: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie
Produced by: Sabastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, Jean-Luc De Fanti, Terry Dougas, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis
Composer/Soundtrack: Oneohtrix Point Never
Cinematographer: Sean Price Williams
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Ben Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tahliah Webster, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress.
When the truth is stranger than fiction and it feels like the 90s.
The Safdie brothers (Josh and Ben) return with their fifth feature film, building on their gonzo-style street films with Official Selection and winner of the Cannes Soundtrack Award, Good Time.
And I was hooked from the opening scene.
When Nick Nikas (Ben Safdie) is questioned by a psychiatrist (Peter Verby), you can tell there’s something not right with Nick. He’s slow. But asking for word associations for, ‘water and ‘salt’, the sadness and beauty and insight into the always lost but understanding all the same was given when Nick makes the association with the sea while tears run down his cheeks.
Then his brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson) bursts into the room, dragging his brother from a place that’s making him cry – it’s wrong to take Nick from a place trying to help him, but he does it for all the right reasons. It’s love.
Sharing the experience of robbing a bank seems easy. Connie’s smart. Street smart. He can manipulate others to get what he wants. He’s bad because he’s misleading but Connie doesn’t want to hurt people, he just wants to help his brother making the character all the more believable because people aren’t purely bad or purely good, there’s always that somewhere in-between.
After Nick gets caught by the police, Connie has to come up with ten-thousand dollars to get him out on bail. And he knows there’s only so many times Nick can change the TV and annoy the other inmates before he gets beaten to death. So there’s desperation to get that $10K. Nothing good comes from desperation.
Good Times felt like real life – a moment-by-moment record of controlled chaos. Like life, sometimes there’s just no time.
Decisions are made in the moment to try to get through and survive. The raw nature of the film reminding me of Oscar winner, ‘Moonlight’. But I related more to the 90s vibe here.
I enjoyed seeing Robert Pattinson embrace his role, the Safdie brothers pushing that Brooklyn element of the film.
Ben Safdie and Pattinson wrote letters to each other for weeks as Connie and Nick, discussing their lives in character to develop the relationship between the two brothers to translate onto the screen.
People will go to see Pattinson in a new role but the stand out for me was Ben Safdie as Nick.
And the soundtrack has to be commended.
The more I get into film the more I understand the integration of image and sound to give the story its emotional landscape.
Sound can give so much more than words.
Here, the thought of the ocean began the emotional tone of the film which continued with the soundtrack.
Daniel Lopatin who records under the name Oneohtrix Point Never has created an electronic-based score with the film ending with a song recorded in collaboration with Iggy Pop.
Add the dialogue, sometimes written just before recording, the film had a chaotic feel, making the fiction truthful – believable because only real life can be that strange.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from the Safdie brothers.
Good Time had balls with a dash of genius. And it wasn’t a harsh ride. It just felt honest.
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