Joshua Safdie (born April 3, 1984) and Benny Safdie (born February 24, 1986) are a writer/director/editor Sibling Team from New York City known for their intense, anxiety-inducing crime stories, naturalistic dialogue and use of vivid, fluorescent color.
While they're both very hands-on on the technical side of their projects, Benny has also stepped in to act in instances such as Good Time and Goldman v Silverman. He's currently slated to co-star with Nathan Fielder in a Showtime comedy The Curse, which he's set to write with Fielder and direct with Josh.
Projects the Safdie brothers have worked on:
- The Pleasure Of Being Robbed (2008)—Directorial debut of Josh without collusion with his brother; also co-written
- Daddy Longlegs (2009)—First writer/director collaboration between the brothers
- Lenny Cooke (2013)—A sports documentary about a former high school basketball player
- Heaven Knows What (2014)—A semi-autobiographical addiction drama
- Good Time (2017)—A crime-drama starring Robert Pattinson and co-starring Benny
- Uncut Gems (2019)—A thriller starring Adam Sandler
- Goldman V Silverman (2020)—A short film starring Adam Sandler and Benny
- The Curse (TBA)—A comedy series co-written by Nathan Fielder and Benny
The Safdie Brothers and their films provide examples of:
- Amateur Cast: While Good Time and Uncut Gems are primarily known for their powerhouse performances from Robert Pattinson and Adam Sandler, respectively, the Safdies fill out their casts with actors who have little to no acting experience, ranging from felon-turned-actor Buddy Duress to NBA champion Kevin Garnett.
- Antihero: None of the Safdies' protagonists are traditionally heroic, instead tending to be selfish, impulsive jerks with hearts of gold. At worst they're destructive, narcissistic Villain Protagonists, such as Connie in Good Time.
- Associated Composer: Starting with Good Time, the Safdies have begun collaborating with electronic musician Daniel Lopatin.
- Big Applesauce: Literally every film they've helmed has taken place in New York City (aside from their one documentary endeavor).
- Black Comedy: Despite the their constantly tense atmospheres, combinations of dialogue and unconventional situations leads to more than a few instances of this across their filmography.
- Broken Record: To go along with their realistic diction, characters often repeat themselves constantly in the same scene; in instances like Uncut Gems, it's at least partially because characters are constantly talking over each other.
- Creator Provincialism: To date, all of the Safdies' films have been set on their home turf of New York City.
- Production Posse: Nearly all of the Safdie Brothers' scripts have been co-written with their friend Ronald Bronstein, who also assists with editing and starred in Daddy Longlegs.
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: HEAVILY averted. Safdie/Ronald Bronstein dialogue is loud, messy and repetitive as with real-life conversations, often overlapping lines in an Altman-esque fashion.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Despite their high profile films featuring a central figure with varying degrees of jerk and self-centeredness, they don't quite lean all the way towards the cynical end, as Good Time also ends with Nick possibly getting the institutional help he needs to stop relying on his brother's toxic influence in his life.
- Sliding Scale Of Silliness Vs Seriousness: Their films are known for their very tense and gritty atmospheres, often casting amateur actors to play people with the same jobs as they have in real life to emphasize the realism of their settings. That being said, their films typically have a good amount of black comedy, often resulting from the stupid decisions of their characters.
- Stupid Crooks: There are no mastermind criminals or gentlemen thieves in the Safdies' world. Good Time in and of itself is like a particularly intense episode of World's Dumbest Criminals.
- You Have to Have Jews: The brothers are ethnically Jewish and often highlight Jewish people and culture in New York City, especially in Uncut Gems.