As I patiently wait for the major fall movies to come out, I took the opportunity to see two lesser-known independent films: Good Time and Ingrid Goes West. Good Time is a somewhat shocking crime-drama starring Robert Pattinson, while Ingrid Goes West is a wacky and often awkward comedy-drama starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen.
Led by possibly the best performance of Pattinson’s career, Good Time involves two brothers who find themselves in serious trouble following a bank robbery gone wrong. After his mentally handicapped brother Nick (Benny Safdie) runs through a glass door and gets arrested, Connie Nikas (Pattinson) goes on the run as a wanted criminal and attempts to free his brother at any cost.
Good Time is anything but that for its main characters. Connie finds himself in one unfortunate, risky and/or sketchy situation after another as he lies, steals, or leaves a trail of innocent people in his wake while attempting to free his brother. Somewhere in his delusional mind, he may believe he is helping his brother, but there’s no doubt in the audience’s mind that Connie is looking out for himself in the most dire of times.
The film is shot in a very messy, neo-noir type style. Many of the scenes are not only dark in lighting, but also in content. The widescreen visuals, thrilling music, and fast-paced, bumpy camera movements only add to the intensity. In the end, it’s truly hard to put into words whether I liked this film or not, but there’s no denying its unconventional nature and strong lead performance.
Good Time is rated R for language throughout, violence, drug use and sexual content. Running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.
In Ingrid Goes West, Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) is somewhat of an unstable person who has just lost her mother and turns to social media to in many ways escape her own life. Constantly “liking” every photo and “following” every person she finds appealing, Ingrid begins to become disillusioned that many of the people she views online are her real friends.
Ingrid eventually moves across the country to insert herself into the life of one of her social media idols, Taylor Sloane (Olsen), who seemingly has the perfect life. While the two do appear to become real life friends in the beginning, Ingrid’s façade of being interested in the same things as Taylor quickly becomes apparent, which leads to quite the reality check.
Between Good Time and Ingrid Goes West, it’s difficult to say which film was more unusual. While the first film has a very specific, unpredictable nature and style, Ingrid Goes West made me so uncomfortable at times that I almost left the theater. Though the modern content and social references are a bit timelier for today’s culture, the material in this film was almost harder for me to stomach as one awkward encounter or conversation continued to pile on top of another.
While parts of the film made me cringe at the potential site of seeing Ingrid’s many lies come crashing down, there are moments that are more than entertaining and comical. Plaza and Olsen provide solid performances, along with supporting acting from O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, and Billy Magnussen. If you’re someone that enjoys the typical California arts scene or have your own online profile, then you’ll likely find value in this humorous, often insane look at the kind of social media life that may be more typical than most would believe.
Although both films feature very different types of people, the characters are also similar in that they are dealing with real world troubles. With technology the way it is today, it’s likely that more people can relate to creating an online profile or image that doesn’t truly reflect who they are, but there are also people out there who struggle with violent tendencies and find themselves only making it worse when they’re trying to find a way out. Both movies feature someone with mental issues that drives them to do something, and while it can be difficult to watch, it’s interesting to think about the parallels between each character and the real life implications they display.
Ingrid Goes West is rated R for language throughout, drug use, some sexual content and disturbing behavior. Running time is 1 hour and 37 minutes.