Image Credit: GEM Entertainment, A24
Shining a light on some hidden gems currently on streaming services, MUSE Film Club is a new series where our editors take it in turns to recommend a film to watch during lockdown. Premiering with MUSE editor Alex Thompson reviewing Good Time, a new instalment of our film club will drop each week - with a new recommendation and review. Enjoy.
Before the Safdie Brothers single-handedly revived Adam Sandler’s career with Uncut Gems, they were busy reinventing Twilight star Robert Pattinson. For this first instalment of MUSE’s film club, let’s take a look back at the nerve-racking Good Time, a visceral and anxiety inducing thriller that cemented the duo as the fastest rising stars of indie cinema.
As their half-baked heist falls apart landing his brother Nick (Benny Safdie) in jail, Connie (Pattinson) plans a risky and spontaneous rescue attempt. Lurching from one desperate attempt to another and getting caught up in drugs deals and cases of mistaken identity, Connie lies, cheats and steals his way across a grainy and gritty vision of New York in an attempt to save his brother. It’s an adrenaline fuelled and unhinged drama, that builds on the duo’s earlier works such as 2014’s Heaven Knows What to create a neo-noir thriller custom made for the anxiety of the 2010s. Undercurrents of race and class underpin the action, mirroring some of the nastier aspects of modern American life. Exploitation, deception and violence run parallel to these ideas, creating a film that manages to create a huge amount of discomfort while also keeping your eyes glued to the spiralling action unfolding on screen. It’s electrifying cinema.
From the gritty, handled camera and slowly climbing aerial shots of the chase sequences to the claustrophobic quick cuts and close-ups of the jail sequences, the cinematography is superb. It might not have the flair of higher budget thrillers but the low-budget intensity of the film making is what makes Good Time such a breathtaking watch. The grainy, punky 35mm lends itself to the gritty feel of the film and the piercing use of neon gives the whole thing a seedy, unsettling quality.
Pattinson delivers perhaps the best performance of his career as the deranged and damaged hustler, propped up by an excellent supporting cast and dynamite script courtesy of the Safdie brothers. In moments of tension and desperation between Connie and Nick, Pattinson and Safdie shine, as they bounce off each other with a nervous energy and reactive charisma.
The soundtrack, courtesy of Oneohtrix Point Never, is another jewel in Good Time’s crown, a fuzzy, climbing electronic score punctuated by moments of bleak silence. Combined with the chaos unfolding on screen, the score serves to strengthen the tension and create moments of nail biting anxiety.
As a way to kickstart our very own film club, you can’t get much more explosive than Good Time. Gritty and indie in its aesthetics and script, chaotic and unsettling in its cinematography and performances and packing a stunning score, Good Time is a future classic of the genre and a hidden gem lurking in your ‘Because You Watched...’ tab on Netflix.
Good Time is currently streaming on Netflix.