Review: ‘Good Time’ (2017)

Robert Pattinson has had an interesting career. While probably best known by most for his leading role in the Twilight films or his turn in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he has veered away from franchise fare in recent years. More intent on working as a character actor, he has since made films with the likes of Werner Herzog, David Cronenberg, Anton Corbijn, David Michod, James Gray, and Claire Denis.

GoodTimePosterWhile I haven’t loved most of these collaborations on the whole, there’s no denying that Pattinson gives each one his all. With each new film, he stretches himself further and further as a performer and it’s impossible for me to not respect him as an actor for that. Good Time is no different in that regard.

Stripped of Pattinson’s performance, Good Time isn’t too far off from your usual low budget crime film these days. It endeavors to present a world bathed in shades of gray, where lowlifes are lowlifes both because they have to be and, in some cases, because they choose to be. There’s a lot of boasting and chest puffing that goes on here between the characters and it legitimately feels true to life.

Unfortunately, none of the characters are very compelling. Even Pattinson’s protagonist isn’t particularly interesting, despite the actor giving a nuanced performance. Because the film, which sees him on the run for the majority of its running time, is effectively a race against time, we never really get to know him. All that we know is that he’s a selfish, desperate man who will use and abuse anyone he needs to if it means getting what he wants.

Pattinson sells this desperation at every turn and breathes life into all of his scenes, but it’s not enough. This is simply a case of a great actor making a lot out of very little. Aside from a nice synth score (with an original song by Iggy Pop), there’s really not much to recommend here beyond his turn. Even the great Jennifer Jason Leigh is utterly wasted in her extended cameo role.

I can see why some have been drawn to the film due to its raw and gritty nature, but it left me feeling cold and wishing its lead were being handled better material at this point in his career. He should be starring in the modern equivalents of Scorsese films like Mean Streets and After Hours. He’s worthy of such material, but unfortunately this isn’t it.

Good Time is an original crime drama. It is directed by Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie, from a screenplay by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein. The film is produced by Sebastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, Terry Douglas, and Paris Kasidokostas Latis. It stars Robert Pattinson, Buddy Duress, Ben Safdie, Taliah Webster, Peter Verby, Eric Paykert, Necro, Barkhad Abdi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

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