Connie Nikas: You’re incredible, do you understand?
Nick Nikas: Yeah.
Good Time has a run time of 101 minutes, it’s a non-stop thrill ride which barely stops to catch its breath. Although the main character Connie (Robert Pattinson) dominates the screen and gives a strong performance, it is Benny Safdie as Connie’s mentally disabled brother who really makes a lasting impression.
He seems to disappear well and truly into the role and seems so real and authentic, it is perhaps the best example of method acting that I have personally seen for a long time. It is an unglamorous role too, which many well known actors seem to take on to simply win Oscars (yes I am referencing the “full joke from Tropic Thunder) but the character of Nick is not treated as something to mock or insult, he is very much a real and well developed individual who is sensitive, but tough and more importantly he isn’t just a victim, he’s a fighter and he is a survivor.
It would have been very easy to play this character in an over the top fashion, which would have made the realism of the film come off as flat and detached. Instead Safdie fully disappears within the character and becomes truly immersed in the role, he is like a chameleon who has blended into the character’s world. And this is the reason why Safdie should be recognised by the Academy.
The film captures the close bond between brothers in a realistic depiction which seems authentic. At no point, does the audience not buy into the idea that the characters do not care for one and other. Credit lies in both Pattinson and Safdie, who are both convincing in their performances. Certainly, the film would not work as effectively if it had not been for Safdie supporting Pattinson and vice versa.
Connieis not an easy character to root for but we egg him on to commit his crimes because the character of Nick is so likeable and sympathetic, you can’t help but want to protect Nick and help him in some sort of way because his past has been so traumatic and his future looks uncertain. There’s a Greek tragedy sense to the characters of Connie and Nick, and it seems that both are trapped on a path that fate has already set out for them.
Connie seems like he is the strongest and will probably be able to handle a life behind bars, but we see from the film’s opening credits that Nick is not meant for the brutal prison, and the sheer amount of violence and abuse he has to endure as a result is not easy to stomach. However, Nick can somehow withstand it, because like I’ve stated before, he is not just a passive victim. Nick gets knocked down but he’s always fighting to get back up on his feet. It could be that he sees the world differently, perhaps he doesn’t understand certain rules and situations due in his disabilities or perhaps it’s because he has nothing to lose but has everything to gain.
The film ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, not for Connie as his fate is sealed but for Nick. There is a sense of optimism, an olive branch if you will, that suggests that the system might be his sanctuary after all. The shots of him standing still while others walk across the classroom “If they like” certain things, shows his isolation in the world, and speaks more than words. It is the confused, puzzled expression on his face as he tries to engage whether he should join in and participate. Does he finally let go of his history with his brother and accept help from an outside
You’re left urging him on, to join in, but is it for our sake because we want him to so desperately to belong somewhere? Nick does join and we can release a sigh of relief. It’s a powerful and touching moment, which is made by Safdie’s performance.