A very dull August has been revitalized by one of the most interesting films of the year.
Good Time is an unusual crime thriller that follows a criminal as his attempt to bust his brother out of jail goes awry. Once the film gets going, the events take place over the course of a single night in which Pattinson’s character goes about running the lives of as many people as he possibly can.
What makes this film so unique is how uncomfortable it can feel at times. The camera is very frequently in extreme close up positions to the actors, and it makes scenes feel claustrophobic and distressing. It is not a permanent close up, but the close ups that are there are extreme and intense. This is apparent from the opening scene where we begin to follow the antagonist of the film in Pattinson. Compounding this issue is the fact that the audience is frequently getting these claustrophobic close ups with a character that genuinely unlikable.
His character is completely deplorable. He takes advantage of everyone he meets while he focuses on how he can free his brother from jail after failing to escape a botched bank robbery. Children, the elderly, hospital patients and anyone else unfortunate enough to bump into him all have their lives changed for the worse after he is through with them. The character is not sinister or full of malice, he is just an inconsiderate criminal looking out for his brother and himself.
In spite of playing an incredibly unlikable character, Pattinson puts on a great performance which may very well be the best of his career so far. While his character may be despicable, that does not mean that the character is not a good one. In fact, the fact that the lead character is such a wretch is what helps this film achieve that consistent level of discomfort.
The discomfort in the film is not the kind that comes from body horror; it is not out to shock you. Rather, it is like driving past a car accident; everyone knows that they should just drive on past it and not look, but we all do. It has an almost mesmerizing factor to it that demands you look at it. That feeling persists through much of the film, which gives it a very unique quality. There are not a lot of films that I have seen that mimic this sort of feel. A recent analogue to this film is Neon Demon. While it has more of a gore factor to it (especially the ending, you’ve been warned) it is also a film that has a nearly constant level of discomfort and unease to it. Another older example is Requiem for a Dream. That film is more shocking than Good Time, but it is another one whose aim seems to be to make the audience feel uncomfortable.
All of this does not mean that this is the best film of the year. Its focus is a little narrow, and the main character does not seem to go through much of a transformation or arc throughout the film. Further, the brother character does not show up quite enough, as getting more exposure to him and the brothers’ relationship would make the ending feel a little more effective. But make no mistake, this is definitely a film worth seeing thanks to the performance put on by Pattinson, and the unusual nature of the film.