You really have to take your hat off to Robert Pattinson, there are few young actors who have managed to so effectively escape their past lives.
Pattinson first broke out starring as brooding vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight film series, the first Young Adult adaptation to gain traction after the success of Harry Potter. Whilst the Twilight films lacked the level of class that Britain’s favourite boy-wizard conjured, the films nonetheless gave a platform for its young stars, launching Pattinson’s career, not to mention that of Kristen Stewart’s and Anna Kendrick’s.
Much like his male lead counterpart in the PotterVerse Robert Pattinson has spent his time post-franchise trying to escape the shadow cast by his former teenage heart-throb self. Unlike Daniel Radcliffe (who has appeared in a series of frequently middling independent films since finishing with Potter), Pattinson, with his angular features and trademark brooding eyes, has been able to attract all manner of venerable film-makers such as David Cronenburg, Werner Herzog, James Gray and now, the enigmatic Safdie Brothers.
In Good Time we see the young actor in perhaps his most unhinged, psychopathic role yet – in many ways a reversal on his despicable yuppie in Cosmopolis. Connie Nikas is similarly loathsome, but comes from a different world altogether, his world is the grimy streets of Brooklyn which is wonderfully realised by the directing team through a myriad of adhoc camera angles and a throbbing psuedo-chill wave soundtrack from Oneohtrix Point Never.
Connie is a pathological liar and ill-prepared criminal, his every action is a reaction to a world that is consistently presenting him with new problems that are, ultimately, of his own making. His brother has developmental issues and Connie feels like he’s the person to help him, rather than the trained therapist we see at the start of the picture. After breaking his brother out of a well-meaning session, the brothers embark on an oafish robbery which results in Nick (Benny Safdie) being imprisoned, leaving Connie with the task of raising several thousands of dollars for his bail, whilst also running from the law.
Perhaps one of the greatest achievements in Good Time, is the hyper-realistic portrayal of Brooklyn. Everything from pedestrian filled shopping malls, to the hospitals and sidewalks is rendered at street level and whilst a neon-glare pulses throughout the film, it never once feels artificial. It’s the juxtaposition between this realistic portrayal and the surreal twists in the story that makes Good Time worth watching. The Safdie brothers have never been afraid of hiring little known character actors, or simply pulling performers off the streets, so the fact that they’ve represented Brooklyn so clearly is of no surprise. That they’ve been able to pair their own brand of gutter-level drama with a genuinely engaging story and compelling lead performance is the real achievement here.
Robert Pattinson has been plugging away for a long time since the end of the Twilight Saga in 2012 and his exemplary performance in Good Time should be more than enough to keep the work offers coming in…