Robert Pattinson and his movie, “Good Time,” are getting rave reviews almost everywhere, except where it counts–in the film’s own backyard. The lofty New York Times is slamming the picture as “stale ugly, cold” and “racist.” Oh my!
The review is only one of many and may not sink the picture on its own.
But coming as it does from the hometown newspaper makes it particularly stinging. The film was shot in Queens, a New York City borough.
In contrast, the picture received a whopping 92 favorable rating on rottentomatoes, which tracks reviews.
It also received a prolonged standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival and has been hailed as some of Pattinson’s best film work.
Queens is hardly a hotbed of Times readers; the boroughs belong to the Daily News and New York Post.
But The Times is influential nationally, in Hollywood and among Manhattan’s chattering class, which helps define art and pop culture.
Pattinson plays Connie, a small-time, street-wise Queens hustler who is desperate to get his mentally challenged brother out of jail following a botched bank robbery.
The plot unfolds over the course of one night, capturing the frenetic pace of Connie’s slap-dash efforts to pull enough strings to spring brother Nick, played by Benny Safdie who directs the film with his brother Josh Safdie.
Times movie critic A.O. Scott starts by damning the film with faint praise. He notes that the film “moves smartly and propulsively to the stressed out strains of Daniel Lopatin’s edge-of-a-heart-attack score.”
“The story doesn’t twist and turn so much as squirm and jump like an eel in the bottom of a rowboat,” he writes.
But it’s pretty much all down hill from there. He saves his deepest cuts for last.
“It doesn’t take long to notice an ugly racial dimension in Connie’s behavior,” he writes. Black characters are easily manipulated and mostly used brutally as his pawns.
“This pattern does not seem accidental,” Scott continues. “The question is what does it mean–what degree of self-consciousness or critical distance “Good Time” brings to its depiction of bottom-of-the-barrel white privilege.
The film may feel like a daring and new genre thrill ride, but it isn’t, he writes. “It’s stale, empty and cold.”
That’s so far off the consensus it’s sick.
“The intensity of ‘Good Time’ can be credited to the performances, to Daniel Lopatin’s often ferocious music and to the directors’ decision to frame everything so tightly, while shooting in the equivalent of CinemaScope,” wrote Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal.
“Propelled by a Rob Pattinson tour de force, this Safdie brothers fireball rips through 100 minutes of screen time like Wile E. Coyote with his tail on fire. It comes at you hard so you remember,” wrote Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.
It’s hard to explain the disconnect, which makes the picture all that much more intriguing.
The movie hits theaters Friday. Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest movie news.