When you consider Cosmopolis, The Rover, Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper, The Lost City of Z and now this, who would have guessed that some of the most interesting and original films of the last decade would come from the two leads of the Twilight series? Robert Pattinson’s come a long way since then, and Good Time further solidifies him as one of the most exciting actors working today.
Here, his physical and behavioural transformation is scary. He plays the kind of guy you never want to cross paths with; fearless, violent, and surprisingly charming when he needs to be. He somehow manages to be likable even after doing things that will utterly disgust you.
Writers Ronald Bronstein and Josh Safdie (who also directs with his brother Ben) waste no time setting up the narrative. Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, who along with his mentally-challenged brother Nick (also played by Ben Safdie), is in the business of robbing banks. Connie is protective and nurturing, but also carelessly dragging his brother down a very unsafe path for someone in his condition – and that’s where things go horribly wrong. Nick panics in front of police and gets himself caught, and the remainder of the film revolves around Connie’s desperate attempt to raise $10,000 in one night for Nick’s bail.
What the Safdie brothers (Heaven Knows What) have done really well is to construct an almost real-time feature that doesn’t lose momentum throughout its entire 100-minute runtime.
Despite his scumbag appearance, Connie is quick-thinking and highly resourceful, which allows the film to move from one scene to another in a believable manner. Sure, some of the supporting characters and plot devices aren’t introduced very subtly, but they do regularly shift the entire course of the film to keep you on your toes.
This is some of the most intense filmmaking you’re likely to experience this year, and much like Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, incorporates very clever audio and editing techniques to raise anxiety levels – most important of which is the penetrating score by Oneohtrix Point Never.
While it isn’t as stylish as Drive, clever as Run Lola Run or disturbing as Irreversible, Good Time is a remarkable feast for the senses.
Created by sitcom veteran Robia Rashid, best known for her work on How I Met Your Mother, Atypical strives to offer an authentic portrayal of the autism spectrum. As shown through Sam (played superbly by Keir Gilchrist), we get a series of embarrassingly awkward social situations coupled with an all-too-familiar need for independence and love. His mannerisms, mainly his fixation on his favourite topics and his very to-the-point way of talking to others, ring true of my own experiences. I was diagnosed with autism at an early age, and through all the support groups and social gatherings I’ve been a part of, I’ve met more than a few people that would see something of the familiar in Sam. Consulting real professionals in the medical industry for reference, Rashid creates Sam as a depiction of autism that may come across as a caricature, but carries enough of his own character to make it fit. He’s unflinchingly honest, to the point of inducing cringe comedy with his matter-of-fact statements in almost every scene, but nevertheless, this rings true.
However, more so than the accuracy, it’s the fact that his condition informs his character, rather than solely being his character, that deserves praise. Representation of people with autism in the mainstream still has a long way to go in terms of proper acceptance, given how the mostly erroneous stereotypes attached to the term ‘autistic’ still exist, but it seems that Rashid’s intent has paid off.
If only the rest of the show was as finely-tuned. For a show literally called Atypical that has a tagline of ‘normal is overrated’, it is quite frustrating that this show feels as tired as it does. Outside of Sam, the rest of the cast is populated by stereotypes that have been regular staples in film and television for a very long time by this point. The overworked mother, the distant father, the abrasive and bratty sister, the best friend whose dialogue is 70% sexual innuendo, the high maintenance girlfriend; after a while, it becomes less a show about autism and more a standard sitcom that an autistic character just happened to wander into.
To make matters worse, the fact that such a frank and honest depiction of autism is sided with so many characters that rarely feel connected to the same level of reality induces cringe in the worst way possible. Any scene that doesn’t involve Sam’s sister (made into the most watchable character of the lot thanks to Brigette Lundy-Paine’s performance) ends up feeling like this is a show that wants to understand autism but apparently still hasn’t figured out basic human interaction itself yet. Then again, when your comedy reaches the point of comparing people with autism to meth addicts, chances are that human interaction wasn’t on the cards in the first place.
Atypical, for as faithful and (mostly) considerate that it is concerning autism, is swimming in too much of the same old junk to really stand out.