We already know Robert Pattinson is no Taylor Lautner.
The “Twilight” mainstays are enjoying wildly different careers following the YA franchise’s finale. Lautner has been all but invisible on the big screen of late while Pattinson keeps tackling thorny roles in provocative indies.
“Good Time” is a career reboot for Pattinson all the same. He’s mesmerizing as a wayward brother trying to survive the fallout from a botched bank job.
The film itself dazzles right along with him. For a spell.
Pattinson plays Connie, the brains behind a bank robbery scheme cooked up for his mentally challenged brother, Nick (Benny Safdie). Together, they pull off the heist beautifully. If only they had thought everything through.
We first meet Nick during a therapy session. Thick lipped and slack faced, he stares at the counselor with a mixture of fear and rage. The camera zooms in on his face until a tear trails down his cheek.
It’s a masterpiece of minimalist storytelling. We already know plenty about this character, his backstory and his pain.
The robbery sequence follows, setting in motion of series of events that could spell doom for the brothers in very different ways.
Filmmaking siblings Josh and Benny Safdie (“Heaven Knows What”) deliver all these moments with a perfect storm of craft, insight and humanity. The score rattles us while Pattinson and Safdie perform an intricate emotional dance. Connie might be a criminal, but his devotion to Nick makes it hard to emotional disconnect from him.
A too short appearance by Jennifer Jason Leigh complicates Connie’s plight. She’s older and needy, and she lacks the resources to help in more ways than one. How could the filmmakers not give us more of this unorthodox couple?
The film’s bigger mistake? Separating its key players. That decision that robs “Good Time” of its well-earned momentum. From there it’s a series of near disasters and clever escapes, the kind that aren’t intriguing enough to feed the narrative.
We’ve seen too many crime capers that go south. Pattinson’s brilliance can’t change that cold truth.
FAST FACT: Robert Pattinson joked about an excised “Good Time” scene involving a dog in an aroused state on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The banter caught PETA’s attention, but the movie’s directors quickly said the actor was joking and no animal was made uncomfortable during the shoot.
Movies set in New York often skimp on realistic accents. Others miss the Big Apple’s unmistakable texture. “Good Time” nails the attitude and visual snap of the city in ways other films should study, if not outright copy.
Pattinson, who in the credits gets both a dialect coach and a character portrait assistant, will get most of the attention for “Good Time.” And that’s understandable.
The film’s creative team shouldn’t be left behind. Yes, their story crumbles by the third act. They still flash the kind of raw, hungry talent that could yield an instant classic the next time around.
HiT or Miss: “Good Time” marks a huge creative leap for star Robert Pattinson. The film’s gifted filmmakers can only leverage that leap for so long, though.