Good Time was criminally underrated upon release last year


By Ethan Luc, Epigram Chief Proofreader

A year to the day after its release, it is a wonder why the film, starring Robert Pattinson, failed to win over audiences and garner more awards.

When it comes to film, what do the words ‘good time’ conjure up for you? Perhaps your favourite film springs to mind, The Sound of Music (1965) or The Shawshank Redemption (1994)?

Maybe you imagine a quiet night in with friends and pizza, watching The Purge (2013) on Netflix or something similar. Whatever it is, you probably won’t think about the pulsating 2017 release from A24 and the Safdie Brothers, which did mildly well but surely should have done much better.

Good Time is a filmic descent down the rabbit hole. It features an acidic, mind-bending use of glowing colour, a relentlessly intense techno score and a mesmerising central performance by Robert Pattinson.

Youtube / A24

The film received some accolades: a few nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards, a Palme D’or nomination and a handful of others. It only won two, both for its score, created by composer Oneohtrix Point Never. It received no Oscar nominations.

In an era where so called ‘indie’ films are riding a wave of popularity at the mainstream awards, it was disappointing to see the Safdie brothers’ hellish ride snubbed. The film opens with Connie (Pattinson) forcibly removing his disabled brother, Nick (Safdie), from a therapy session. They embark on a thrilling bank heist, which ends abruptly after the duo are tricked and Nick is taken into custody. Connie escapes.

The remainder of the film endures over the course of a frenetic day, in which Connie attempts to find the money needed to bail his brother out but instead ends up smuggling a mummified Nick out of a hospital, only to find that the bandaged figure is in fact a cynical criminal named Ray.

IMDb / Good Time / A24

What follows is a night-time adventure under the gorgeous haze of New York’s neon signs, where strangers are seduced into corruption, LSD is buried like treasure at amusement parks and drug dealers come equipped with hounds straight from the underworld.

Pattinson is ferocious in his role, blending misplaced love for his brother with a spewing hatred for the society around him. Shaggy-haired, foul-mouthed and staring into the void, he gives an unforgettable turn as Connie Nikas. It is a far cry from the pale-faced pouting of Edward Cullen.

Benny Safdie, one half of the pair of directing brothers, takes up the support, an empty shell of a man, who perhaps once requited his brother’s affection but now no longer even recognises it. Together, they are our keys into an American nightmare which is far removed from something Frank Sinatra would have crooned about.

Twitter / @MOVIEFAN99

Indie films have experienced an industry wide boom in the last couple of decades, resulting in the inception of companies like A24, which distributed Good Time. A24 is an independent film company which produced Best Picture winner Moonlight (2016) and, this year, has received praise for Hereditary (2018) and First Reformed (2017). They also helped create Lady Bird (2017) and The Disaster Artist (2017).

Despite the two latter titles being released in the same year as Good Time, they received much more public attention: Good Time made just $4.1 million at the Box office, which is less than half of the budget spent on both those films.

Like many independent films, an initial limited release might have had something to do with it. The film then suffered the 39th worst wide cinema opening since 1982, making just under $600,000 after a fleeting appearance at the theatres. It failed to kick on from there, but those who did have the fortune of seeing it, received it well, giving it a score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 80% audience score.

Twitter / @IndieWire

Clearly, the film was enjoyed immensely by critics and audiences alike, but it seems that simply not enough people saw it. Box office sales play a major role in Oscar and award success, and Good Time marketing was unfortunately weak in that respect. A24 had bigger prospects to promote and the film was duly acquired by Netflix for an under the radar distribution.

Good Time is gritty, ugly and hypnotic. It is not a feel-good film like The King’s Speech (2010) or Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Its characters are difficult to sympathise with. But the film’s score was arguably the best of the year and its central performance was the best of the year.

In a consumerist world, it’s a reminder that good marketing is a necessity. Good Time was not so much forgotten. It never had much of a chance of being remembered.

Featured Image: BFI London Film Festival 2017 / A24

Did you even hear about Good Time when it came out last year?

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