‘Good Time’ a Game Changer for Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson continues his quest to shed his teen heartthrob image with “Good Time,” a crime drama from rising independent filmmaker brothers Josh and Benny Safdie. He may not have a huge beard this time around like he did in “The Childhood of a Leader” and “The Lost City of Z,” but he goes through a dramatic physical transformation, complete with a bad dye job and less than flattering facial hair, to play dirtbag Constantine “Connie” Nikas. Connie’s major redeeming quality is his love for his mentally handicapped brother, Nick (Benny Safdie), whom he nevertheless puts in danger after he busts him out of his group home and turns him into an accomplice for a bank robbery. Not surprisingly, it turns into a botched operation, and Nick ends up in the hospital with severe injuries and under police supervision. It’s now up to Connie to save his brother, and mayhem ensues.

One of Connie’s first stops is to the home of a girlfriend, played brilliantly by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who still lives at home with her mother (Rose Gregorio), who pathetically gives into Connie when she attempts to use her mom’s credit card for bail money for Nick — not so much because she cares about Nick, but due to her attachment to Connie. Not a lot of backstory is given about their relationship, but it is presented as a dysfunctional one to say the least, and Pattinson and Leigh are great together in their few scenes. After the bail attempt falls through, Connie makes an attempt to rescue Nick himself. It’s impossible to describe what happens next without giving too much away, but Connie goes on a journey during which he encounters Crystal (talented newcomer Taliah Webster), a chill 16-year-old girl who ends up getting sucked into his crazy adventure along with his fellow criminal (Buddy Duress). Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi also pops up as an amusement park worker who incurs Connie’s wrath. Oh, and there’s also a soda bottle full of acid.

“Good Time,” which overall is an amusing caper, is a far cry from the popcorn movies that made Pattinson a star, as it is grimy and disjointed. Pattinson recently joked to Jimmy Kimmel about being asked by his directors to engage in a sex act with a dog, and although this was allegedly never in the screenplay, a scene like that wouldn’t feel out of place in this film that is not for the squeamish. With it’s heavy dialogue, dark humor and crime themes, “Good Time” is a little bit like a Tarantino film at times, but with far less blood.

An interesting fact about “Good Time” is that it was Pattinson who initially approached the Safdie brothers about collaborating after seeing a single still of the filmmakers’ ”Heaven Knows What” in “Indiewire” and became determined to work with the duo. Although they took their time responding to the “Twilight” star, they have reason to be happy that they did, as “Good Time” is a game changer for all three of them.

Good Time” opens Aug. 11 in Los Angeles and New York, Aug. 25 nationwide.