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Film / Good Time

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"I think something very important is happening and it's deeply connected to my purpose."
Connie Nikas

Good Time is a 2017 crime thriller drama film directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, written by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein (a long-time collaborator of the brothers'), and starring Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie. Supporting actors include Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi, and Buddy Duress.

Constantine "Connie" Nikas (Pattinson) is a bank robber from Queens, New York whose life gets turned upside down when his mentally handicapped brother Nick (Safdie) winds up in Riker’s Island after a hastily executed bank robbery goes horribly wrong. Connie must now spend the night trying to get Nick out in one way or another, meeting an assortment of characters while also trying to avoid the law enforcement looking for him.

An integral aspect of Good Time's style and atmosphere is derived from its electronic score by Oneohtrix Point Never, which took influence from diverse sources including Tangerine Dream and progressive rock.

The film premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where it was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or, before getting a limited-to-wide theatrical release from A24 in August of that year.

Tropes that apply to the film include:

  • Abusive Parents: In the beginning, there was an incident involving Connie and Nick's grandmother attacking them that the latter is visibly impacted by. Subverted when it turns out that Connie attacked his grandmother and lied to Nick about what happened.
  • The Alcoholic: Ray. The first thing he does when he gets out of prison, and later when he enters Dash's apartment, is drink a bottle of booze.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Where Connie and Ray try to recover the Sprite bottle full of LSD and the bag of money.
  • All for Nothing: Connie is arrested before he can sell the LSD and get the remaining money to bail Nick out. Subverted in that Nick may now be getting the help he needs free of his brother's influence.
  • And I Must Scream: The last scene we see of Dash contains him waking up framed for trespassing and drugged with an extremely high dose of acid. In his ensuing panic, he's unable to speak a coherent word, much less prove his innocence.
  • Animal Motifs: Connie is associated with dogs. He's shown to be friendly with Corey and Dash's dogs, and claims he was a dog in a previous life.
  • Asshole Victim: Ray may not have been any more sleazy than Connie, but it would still have been depressing if a scumbag like him became a Karma Houdini.
  • Bandaged Face: Ray's appearance when we first see him in the hospital, and part of the reason Connie mistakes him for Nick.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Connie towards Nick, as he robs a bank and later tries to break him out of prison motivated purely by brotherly love, as horribly misguided as it is.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: The film takes place in Queens, New York, and generally depicts the city as as a Wretched Hive of crime, drugs and dysfunction.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Crystal winds up arrested, Ray dies a pointless, accidental death, the bottle of acid is spilled, and Connie is arrested, but him finally telling the truth gets Nick out of prison, reunited with his grandmother, and starting to break free of his influence.
  • Celebrity Cameo:
    • Is that muMs da Schemer driving a hospital bus?
    • Necro's role also qualifies as such, having played a bigger role in Heaven Knows What, the Safdie brothers' previous film.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Incredibly prominent throughout the movie, especially Connie and Ray, which is justified considering they’re two criminals on the run.
  • Consummate Liar: Connie constantly makes up detailed and convincing lies on the spot to evade trouble or get help from strangers, even for outlandish situations like being completely covered in red dye or caught breaking into an amusement park funhouse.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Ray likely never would have encountered Connie, let alone had any animosity toward him, had the latter not mistakenly busted him out of the hospital. But in the course of a single night, Connie's destructive and manipulative tendencies transform Ray from a mostly harmless fuckup into his worst enemy.
  • Determinator: No matter what, Connie will try and find a way to be reunited with Nick.
  • Disney Villain Death: While trying to climb the outside of Dash's apartment building, Ray slips and falls to the ground.
  • Distressed Dude: Nick spends the majority of the film in prison and then in the hospital, leading Connie to get himself into all sorts of trouble trying to rescue him.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Connie's a manipulative bank robber, Nick is a mentally-disabled Woobie dragged into his plans, Corey is an Extreme Doormat whom Connie easily manipulates and Ray is a Large Ham drug dealer whom Connie forces to help out. Even Crystal, while a level-headed and nice enough kid, is living in messy near-squalor with her grandparents, with a fridge bereft of food and full of jars of unspecified bodily fluids.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: As much of a scumbag Connie is, he does truly care about his brother despite the fact he has no issues getting him involved in his criminal schemes and can't seem to grasp why it is a bad idea to take Nick out of his therapy group.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The entire film takes place over the course of around 24 hours.
  • Failed a Spot Check: While in the hospital trying to break Nick out, Connie neglects to actually check the files outside of Ray's door, and wrongly sneaks him out of the hospital.
  • From Bad to Worse: Virtually the entire plot is Connie making one bad decision after another in a desperate but misguided attempt to get his brother out of jail.
  • Greedy Jew: The crooked bail bondsman wears a yarmulke.
  • Hypocrite: Connie. He at one point accuses Ray of being an idiot and a parasite who contributes nothing to society. This is coming from a guy who has done nothing but lie and steal the whole film, pulled his mentally disabled brother from specialist therapy that would probably help him and got him arrested, and keeps coming up with poorly thought out plans that make the situation worse. Ray really has a point about he and Connie being similar.
  • Identical Stranger: Connie breaks Ray out of the hospital instead of Nick due to mistaking their similar curly hairstyles.
  • Indy Ploy: Deconstructed. Connie's plans are usually made up on the fly and are always just clever enough to get him out of immediate trouble, but fraught with long-term problems that add to his wrap sheet. Unsurprisingly, the film ends with Connie being caught and arrested while fleeing from his latest botched crime.
  • Jerkass:
    • Connie pretty much acts like a unbearable jerk to the people around him and uses them for his own gain. His unabashed love for Nick comes close to pushing him into Jerk with a Heart of Gold territory, but he still manipulates and uses his disadvantaged brother.
    • Ray is generally unpleasant to anyone he encounters, has no real loyalty save to Caliph, and only looks out for himself. He takes the plunge into full Hate Sink when he forces Dash to drink a massive dose of LSD in order to keep him quiet.
  • Kick the Dog: Connie callously allows Crystal to be arrested without speaking up.
  • Kid Sidekick: Crystal winds up becoming this to Connie and Ray, and gets arrested for her troubles.
  • Latex Perfection: Averted - Connie and Nick attempt this for their bank robbery, disguising themselves as bald African-American males. Rather than invoking the Cast as a Mask trope, the characters use actual full-head silicone rubber masks (made by SPFX Masks, to be exact, their "Player" mask), further obscured with wool hats, hoods and sunglassses. The effect is pretty decent, if you don't look too closely at them....
  • MacGuffin: Three of them appear.
    • The initial backpack of mostly-ruined money which Connie hides in the pizzeria bathroom and has to go back for later.
    • The duffel bag of cash stolen from a RadioShack that's been hidden somewhere in the amusement park funhouse.
    • The Sprite bottle full of LSD that drives the rest of the plot. Connie ends up losing it in a parking lot as he's tackled by police.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Connie. He's prone to distorting the truth at best to get what he wants, and flat out lies at worst. Such as what happened with him and Nick's grandmother.
  • Men Act, Women Are: Connie does everything. Corey's main contribution to the plot is trying to pay the ten grand to get his brother out of prison, but being prevented by her mother.
  • My Beloved Smother: Corey's Mother seems to be this way with her such as being in charge of all her credit cards. Granted some of it could also be because of the fact she is dating Connie.
  • Mushroom Samba: Ray goes through one prior to ending up in the hospital, and later invokes this on Dash by making him swallow a gratuitous amount of LSD.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Nick gets beaten up by a bunch of inmates at Rikers after repeatedly trying to change the channel on the TV and eventually getting aggressive with one of them.
    • Connie beats Dash into unconsciousness to keep him from talking to the police.
  • No Social Skills: Nick can't socialize normally due to his mental handicap, which leads to him being brutally beaten and hospitalized when the police carelessly toss him into general population in jail.
  • Parental Abandonment: Connie and Nick were apparently raised by their grandmother and it's not really mentioned where their parents are. Ditto for Crystal.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: Connie attempts to break his brother out of the hospital, only to find out he's got the wrong guy.
  • Pet the Dog: Connie has his moments with his brother and to an extent with Crystal; while his fondness towards the former seems genuine if misguided, it's hard to tell in the latter case what's genuine and what's an effort to endear himself to her for manipulative purposes. He also literally pets several dogs throughout the movie as well.
  • Police Are Useless: Zig-zagged. The NYPD is portrayed as a brutal and ham-handed institution, carelessly tossing the mentally disabled Nick into general population where he is beaten into a coma, and then unquestioningly arresting at least two innocent black people for crimes that Connie actually committed. The latter deception only fools them for a few hours at best, however, and they are ultimately able to track down, corner and arrest Connie with little difficulty.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: A downplayed and maybe even unconscious example, but Connie's schemes repeatedly rely on him scapegoating black people for his own crimes and trusting the police to be racist enough to buy it. The only reason he and Ray escape the amusement park, for instance, is because he was able to fool the responding officers into thinking that Crystal and Dash, both of whom are black, were the intruders.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Dash, the security guard at the Amusement Park of Doom, is simply trying to do his job and stop Connie.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Connie's willing to sink pretty low to get out of trouble, but seducing a teenager to distract her from his mugshot being shown on the news is extreme even for him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Pepe the Frog appears in a panel of a comic book Ray and Khalil soak in LSD to create acid tabs.
    • The opening scene is highly reminiscent of the opening scene of Blade Runner.
    • When Connie is finally arrested, the long-take close-up of his Villainous B So D in the backseat of the police car will look very familiar to anyone who remembers Bob Hoskins realizing how deeply fucked he is at the end of The Long Good Friday.
  • Sound-Only Death: After Ray slips and falls from the balcony, we cut to Connie's reaction as we hear a jarringly loud thud amid the screams of onlookers.
  • The Stoner: On top of being an alcoholic, Ray likes to drop acid from time to time.
  • Stupid Evil: Connie. People get hurt and even die because of his impulsive actions, while Connie doesn't seem to notice or care about the harm he's bringing.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Connie and Ray are forced to become accomplices after the former mistakes the latter for his brother and breaks him out of the hospital. Realistically, the men have no reason to trust one another and eventually come to blows.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Connie ends up being caught and arrested by police. As he is escorted towards a police car, watches Ray fall to his death, and is then driven away, he has a distant, unreadable look in his eyes, as if in shock or just now realizing the cost of his actions and how thoroughly he screwed up.
  • Title Drop: Nick's therapist promises that he will have a "good time" at the end of the film while leading him into a new therapy class.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ray tries to escape the cops by climbing out of the apartment window and then shimmying over to an adjacent balcony, all with a broken shoulder and one good eye. He slips and falls to his death as a result.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer depicts several prominent moments that occur around the film's climax, including Dash being arrested, Ray falling to his death, and Connie in the back of a police car after being arrested.
  • Villain Protagonist: Connie. He's an amoral bank robber who commits various other crimes, but he genuinely seems to love his brother and his main motivation throughout the film is freeing him.
  • Villainous B So D: Connie spends the whole night lying, cheating, stealing and worse, but none of it seems to hit him until he causes a man's death. The last we see of him is him staring blankly into the camera from the back of a cop car.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Dash and and Crystal are both arrested, and the audience is not told what happens to them afterwards. It can be assumed that the police would eventually figure out that Dash was working security and had been framed by Connie. Crystal's fate, however, is more uncertain.
    • The fact the police show up to arrest Connie and Ray at Dash’s apartment suggest they figured out the ruse, possibly due to Crystal’s interrogation, cross references with the hospital bus driver.
    • What happened to the getaway driver?
    • What happened to Dash's dog?