What is love? That’s not the theme you expect from a heist film, but that’s what the directors, the Safdie brothers, and co-writer Ronald Bronstein, deliver. Robert Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, a young twenty-something who’s trying to take care of his mentally handicapped brother, Nick, played by director Benny Safdie. Their oppressive mother is, from Connie’s point-of-view, an unloving and mean old lady. And he’s trying to get enough money so he and Nick can move out on their own. Only trouble is they’re trying to raise the money through a bank robbery.
Things go awry. Connie gets away. Nick is captured. So Connie spends the rest of the film doing everything he thinks he possibly can to free Nick. After going to a bail bondsman to secure Nick’s release, Connie realizes he doesn’t have enough and enlists his girlfriend Corey, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, to use her credit card. She’s suspicious but does it anyway. Only her mother puts a hold on the card leading Connie to break into the hospital where he learns Nick is convalescing after a prison brawl.
The rest of the film we see just how gifted Connie is at understanding and manipulating people, doing anything and everything he can to get his brother to safety. The plot is a normal heist movie, but the devil is in the details and here the story departs from the usual heist formula and gives us a glimpse of just what people will do for love, something I haven’t seen in a heist film since 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon.
The thing that makes Good Time so fascinating is the way it shows us love from many different points of view. There’s Connie’s love for Nick and the way he’s willing to do anything for him. There’s Corey’s love for Connie and how she’s willing to even cheat her own mother when she’s less than certain Connie is being truthful with her, all for the chance to do something for him. We see Annie’s love for people when she lets Connie in. We see her granddaughter’s desire to be liked by just anyone. And we see Peter, the psychiatrist, who has a professional relationship with Nick, but does the most loving thing of all.
The movie ends with a scene that is perhaps one of the most touching scenes I’ve seen in a long time. A heist film that can make you cry? This one is it.