I usually want my protagonists to be likable. Not always morally sound, but likable. Robert Pattinson’s character in the Safdie Brothers‘ 2017 film Good Time is neither. However, I didn’t seem to mind it much. That’s not to say it didn’t affect my enjoyment in some way. But without any spoilers, there is a redeeming quality by the end.
Connie (Pattinson) and his developmentally disabled brother, Nick (Benny Safdie), rob a bank. Nick gets caught and now Connie’s on the run from the cops. While in jail, Nick gets into a fight with some other inmates who aren’t empathetic towards his condition. Even though he’s still at large, Connie catches wind that Nick’s in the hospital and goes on a mission to break him out. The rest of the movie plays out over the course of one night as Connie finds himself amidst the underground drug scene of New York City.
When I say Connie isn’t likable, I mean that everything he does is self-serving to the point of destroying everyone else’s lives around him. It was his idea to rob the bank and Nick takes the fall. Connie never seems to learn the consequences of his selfish agenda, meanwhile he’s ruining everyone else in the process.
It’s hard to latch onto a film where the lead is this loathsome, but directorial team Josh and Benny Safdie give us as engaging of a story as possible despite our distaste for Connie. We like everyone else around him, and we come to realize that’s the point.
Pattinson does an amazing job with the role. I’m curious why he wasn’t nominated for more accolades for this. Safdie also gives a great performance as Nick. I had to look up if he was actually disabled because he was so convincing.
Good Time won’t necessarily set the world on fire, but it does provide us with a gripping and memorable thrill with a kinetic and unpredictable story, and a deeper twist on old genre cliches.