Dir. Josh and Benny Safdie, USA, A24 Films.
Recalling the films of John Cassavetes and early Martin Scorsese, Josh and Bennie Safdie’s Good Time (2017) has a simple premise that belies its rigorous formal execution. As the film’s protagonist Connie resourcefully attempts to post his brother Nick’s bail through a succession of impulsive and conniving decisions that leave a path of destruction in his wake, we’re given access to an intimate subjectivity that is neither sympathetic nor contemptuous, revealing more about Connie than any external plot pressure would. As he slickly moves from one opportunity to the next with claustrophobic close ups, over a pulsating soundtrack and through a dystopian Queens, we’re barely given a second to recalibrate our uncertainty towards him, kept as acutely in the moment as he is. It’s only when this moment to moment exhaustion overwhelms and our perspective shifts back to Nick that we can take a breath, look back at how we got here, and begin to see Connie for what he really is. Whether he will ever do the same remains ambiguous.