ReelBob: ‘Good Time’ ★★★½
By Bob Bloom
Connie Nikas is a repugnant individual. He’s one of those people if you saw walking down the street, you’d cross to the other side.
He is a crook, a grasping ferret of a man, who uses people, then discards them without a backward glance.
Connie, as portrayed by Robert Pattinson in “Good Time,” has no redeeming qualities. Compassion, loyalty and empathy are foreign to him.
Connie also is inept. Everything he touches, every plan he conceives blows up in his face.
Connie, who thinks he’s smarter than most, could be a charter member of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. All his schemes collapse.
And, unfortunately, his younger brother, Nick, pays the price. Nick, played by Ben Safdie, who directed the movie with his brother, Joshua, is mentally challenged.
His eyes are vacant, and he talks slowly, slurring or mumbling his words.
When Connie involves Nick in a bank robbery, the job goes south. A teller slips a dye pack into the bag of loot, causing it to explode and showering the brothers in dye.
Later, after cleaning up, they are stopped by the police. Nick panics and runs, forcing Connie to do the same. When Nick is apprehended, Connie continues to flee, leaving his brother behind.
The bulk of “Good Time” focuses on Connie’s attempts to, first, bond Nick out of Riker’s Island, and, later, take Nick from the hospital where he was transported after a fight at Riker’s.
Connie wheedles his girlfriend, a short but interesting turn by the always dependable Jennifer Jason Leigh, to go with him to a bail bondsman and use her mother’s credit card to spring Nick. But mom has canceled the card.
After Connie learns Nick is hospitalized, he sneaks in, finds his room and flees with Nick in a wheelchair. Except, because the prisoner’s face is bandaged, he springs the wrong guy.
The rest of the night is spent trying various scams to get some money — all of which fail spectacularly.
Decades ago, legendary comedian Oliver Hardy of Laurel & Hardy fame, explained the key to his character: Nothing is as funny, Hardy said, as a dumb guy who thinks he’s smart.
That is an apt description of Pattinson’s Connie. Except Connie is not amusing. He is a pathetic mop of a man who always seems to be reaching for something — even if he does not know what that is.
Pattinson’s performance is exceptional. He is now far away from his “Twilight” heartthrob days.
He imbues Connie with an animalistic instinct for survival and a callousness and selfishness that creates chaos and misery all around him.
“Good Time” is an ironic title for a feature with a protagonist who you would rather avoid. This is one of those grimy, New York street stories about people on the fringes trying to gain a foothold any way they can.
In Connie’s case, he continually flops. And even though he is such a loser, Pattinson steadfastly refuses to show any remorse for the turmoil he creates.
To Pattinson’s credit, and that of the Safdie brothers, you may be impressed with “Good Time,” but you will never like or feel sympathy for Connie Nikas.
He is an unredeemable gutter rat that is fascinating to watch, but makes you feel as if you will need a shower afterward.
I am a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). I also review Blu-rays and DVDs. I can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Links to my reviews can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
3½ stars out of 4
(R), bloody violence, language, drug use, sexual content