Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Barkhad Abdi
Directed By: Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
Plot; In almost real-time, a man (Pattinson) tries everything to get his handicapped brother Safdie) out of jail.
What Works: First off, Pattinson has never been better. Just like how Daniel Radcliffe has taken a ton of roles to shed his Harry Potter image, Pattinson is trying to distance himself from the Twilight series by picking some really smart roles. He might not be increasing his bankability, but he’s definitely being taken more seriously. He’s incredible here. At times, I forgot I was watching Pattinson in the role, because it is so against type for him. He’s barely likeable. He’s likeable only in his devotion to his brother, otherwise he’s a pretty shitty person. It’s hard to root for him, but that’s the point of the movie. I also love how visceral this film looks and feels. It’s definitely an indie film, but it feels dirty, like something you shouldn’t be seeing. It’s the perfect look and feel for this film. If it was a clean shot film, it wouldn’t have the same effect.
What Doesn’t Work: I didn’t think the supporting cast did any favors. Hell, I didn’t even like Leigh that much, and I normally think she slays everything. I don’t think Safdie is nearly as good an actor as he is a director, and he holds the film back. There are also scenes that can go on a little too long. The film starts off at a good pace, and maintains that until about the halfway point where we slow down a lot and sit in this house for a while. Once the film has slowed, it takes a while to get going again. It ends with a fierce bang, but I can’t say this film doesn’t have pacing issues, or needs about 5 minutes trimmed.
Final Word: If you’re in the mood for a “good time”, this is not an uplifting film. This is one of those likely “one time” watches that will leave you impressed by Pattinson, and hopeful that the next film the Safdie brothers direct is even better. THis shows a lot of promise in their skills, and I’m looking forward to their next project.
Final Grade: B+