Crime doesn’t pay. And neither does trying to justify it. That’s the message we see conveyed in “Good Time,” the new crime drama directed by Ben and Josh Safdie (the former of whom also co-stars in the film). But what we see even more of is the struggle of the film’s main protagonist Connie, played with charismatic flare by Robert Pattinson. Connie is exactly who he appears to be at first glance: a two-bit thug desperate for a big break. And he supposedly finds it in the form of a New York bank, which he attempts to rob at the beginning with the help of his brother Nick, played by co-director Ben Safdie.
Nick, as we see in the beginning of the film, is mentally handicapped, and the complete opposite of his brother. Where Connie is quick-witted and ruthless, Nick is naïve and oblivious to his brother’s transgressions. He thinks he’s just helping out his brother, who only wants to do good by him when no one else will, and he ends up getting sent straight to Rikers for it. The rest of the film focuses almost entirely on Connie, and how he tries to find the bail money for his brother while keeping one step ahead of the law. It’s here where we get a much better sense of Connie’s character, and how he treats those around him.
Relying on the kindness and gullibility of friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers, Connie weasels his way out of one bad situation and straight into another with cruel ease. He makes forced errors and severe lapses in judgment at the expense of others. He coerces, seduces, and threatens people to suit his own ends, and then excuses it with tactless honesty. If these qualities remind you of anyone in real life, then it’s probably not a coincidence. There are times when the whole film feels metaphorical to American depravity, and much like social issues that plague us today, you find yourself wondering what could’ve happened to lead the main character down such a dark path. The conclusion is all but inevitable. In the end, both brothers end up where they belong, a bittersweet fact made all too evident by the closing credits.
This film, while not easy, is still well worth watching. You’ll leave feeling heavy and perhaps somewhat unclean. But the experience will stay consistent in your mind and you’ll know that you made the right call, as opposed to a chain of bad ones.