GAGE SKIDMORE /CC BY SA 4.0 Robert Pattinson (right) stars as Constantine Nikas in the critically accalimed Safdie Brothers film Good Time.
“Say it, say it out loud.” Those are the infamous words that have followed Robert Pattinson ever since he starred in the five film teenage-vampire angst series that was Twilight.
Over the years both he and Kristen Stewart have taken on smaller roles in order to get away from the spotlight that penetrated their everyday lives post-Twilight.
Both he and Kristen Stewart deserve much better, and it’s lovely watching them get acclaim for roles they are actually passionate about.
Stewart seems to have found an auteur, Olivier Assayas, that brings out the best in her, as evidenced in Clouds of Sils Mara and Personal Shopper.
Pattinson, on the other hand, seems to have avoided being the lead in films due to the negative light of Twilight (aside from his role in 2010’s Remember Me).
That being said, one could argue that Pattinson’s most important role in pop culture history is as the death-destined Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.
His portrayal of Diggory is to this day underrated and one of the best parts of the film. You want to hate him, but he’s too nice, and it’s a glimpse into what Pattinson offers as an actor.
It’s a shame that the role that made him a household name is also one that has haunted him in his future endeavors.
Thankfully in 2017 you could say we are experiencing somewhat of a “Pattinson-ance.” He was unrecognizable in a supporting role in James Gray’s The Lost City of Z alongside Charlie Hunnan.
Pattinson also recently starred in the Safdie brothers’ Good Time and has a film with French director Claire Denis set for 2018.
Good Time, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this past May and was selected as a Palme D’Or nominee (think Best Picture but with foreign and American films in one category), is another film in which Pattinson gets to flex his acting muscles.
The aforementioned star plays the character Constantine (Connie) Nikas, a man who decides to rob a bank with his mentally handicapped brother Nicholas (Nick), played by Ben Safdie (one of the directors).
In the ensuing chase, Nick is caught by the cops and Connie tries to find a way to get his brother out of jail by any means necessary.
The script, written by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, allows Pattinson to really showcase his talents. He is able to quickly transform from someone charming into someone terrifying and back with the blink of an eye.
We got glimpses of this talent several times in Goblet of Fire, but here it’s on full-display. Pattinson’s character is a chameleon, and the lighting by Sean Price Williams does an incredible job of portraying this.
The neon colors that bounce of Pattinson’s face amplify the emotion and nuance that he is able to bring to the table.
The pace of the film, compounded with the incredible score by Oneohtrix Point Never, generates an atmosphere that borders on a vomit-inducing thrill ride. Yet it never loses sight of its emotional core.
This depth lies in the relationship between Nick and Constantine and the former’s inability to fully see his brother as someone that doesn’t always have his best interests at heart.
Throughout the entire film you are reminded by Constantine that he needs money to bail his brother out of jail, however, there is somewhat of a disconnect as he doesn’t really take ownership over how he is responsible for the situation in the first place.
It’s not so much that he’s ignorant; He just doesn’t care. He isn’t afraid to use his brother to his advantage, a fact that is lost on Nick and is heartbreakingly shown in the ending of the film.
Safdie’s portrayal of Nick is within the bounds of acceptance and never peers into parody. Nick’s speech is difficult to understand, but all that needs to be said is communicated through his eyes.
The confusion, fear and sadness can be found there. The supporting cast all do an amazing job with the roles that they are given, even if their ultimate purpose is really just to be a body that Constantine is going to end up using to his own benefit.
Good Time succeeds at telling the story it wants to tell in the time it has. That being said there is a short stretch where it feels like the film loses its focus. When we get the backstory of a character that we’ve only met half-way through the film, it almost feels like a distraction.
The attempt to add some comedy and add some (adult) lightheartedness is a waste if not for giving Constantine the next possible way he can get his brother out of jail.
Overall though, this is just a small hiccup in what is otherwise a very well made, shot and acted film that reminds us what a talent Pattinson really is. Definitely a must-see.