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Pattinson Packs a Punch In Good Time

November 30, 0002 12:00 AM
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In the early minutes of Josh and Benny Safdie's Good Time, we meet Nick Nikas (Benny Safdie), a sullen young man who clearly suffers from some kind of intellectual disability, as he's being quizzed by a kindly mental-health practitioner. Nick wears a hearing aid. His words come slowly--his pillowy lips can barely form them--and his eyes seem shut off from the world. When the shrink asks Nick what first comes to mind when he hears the words "scissors and a cooking pan," his answer--as easy to read as a street sign--is, "You can hurt yourself with both." Nick needs real help, but he's not going to get it from his bad-apple brother Connie (Robert Pattinson), who manipulates Nick even as he protects him. The two are entwined in a figurative headlock of dependence and twisted affection. It's a power struggle neither can bust out of.

The Safdie brothers' fourth fiction feature is partly a study of dysfunctional brotherhood, partly a gritty-funny New York City crime caper. If you can tolerate the Safdies' fondness for extreme closeups--the picture is shot largely in a mode I like to call Blackhead Theater--Good Time offers plenty...

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