Homer and his successors explained Odysseus as polytropos, in reference each to his boundless craftiness and to the literal “many turns” he took on his ten-yr voyage home to Ithaca just after the Trojan War. If ever that epithet have been owing for a deserved comeback, it would be in reference to Robert Pattinson’s character in Superior Time, the new film from director-brothers Josh and Benny Safdie.
Pattinson’s vocation has alone been 1 of a lot of turns his days as a sparkly vampire heartthrob in the multivolume Twilight videos driving him, he has been drifting around the art-residence and worldwide cinema circuits. In Superior Time, Pattinson is at his most unrecognizable as Connie Nikas, 1 of those scrappy Greek kids from Queens who just can’t seem to be to capture a break, or give 1 to any person else.
We’re provided just more than enough of a photograph of the Nikas household backstory—parents long gone, yiayia embittered by her grandsons—to hope difficulty when, 5 minutes into the film, Connie interrupts the speech-therapy session of his developmentally impaired youthful brother Nick (performed by co-director Benny Safdie). Connie barges in in the title of rescuing Nick from a psychiatric system that is not the least little bit fascinated in truly improving Nick’s lifestyle. Seemingly, Connie’s personal concept of serving to a brother out is to enlist him as an accomplice in robbing a lender.
This, of course, does not conclude well: Nick gets caught and tossed in jail, which kicks off an insomniatic nightmare for Connie, who spends the rest of the night—and the film—relying on his Odyssean wiles to scrounge up the income to publish his brother’s bail. Connie is a learn in the subtle art of lying his ass off. The tales he spins to get strangers to give him what he would like audio so plausible, even from our being aware of vantage, that we’re just about convinced ourselves that they aren’t outright lies so a lot as versions on the truth of the matter.
Nevertheless, just as no amount of storytelling prowess could absolutely free Odysseus from the ten years of wandering ordained for him by the angry gods, weak Connie just can’t speak his way out of the fate in retailer for him. The divinities governing his world—every no-great lender, bureaucracy, and urban-organizing committee you can think of—give the Olympians a operate for their income by cooking up a nauseating nocturnal gantlet for Connie to operate. Over the study course of 1 evening he gets dragged all around Flushing, from his girlfriend’s residence to the medical center to a random woman’s home in which he crashes just after breaking a prison-battered Nick out of reported medical center and dyes his personal hair a gnarly shade of blonde to evade identification as the lender robber who’s preferred on Television set. Then, just after the most audacious narrative alter-up I’ve expert at a film all year—I won’t spoil it for you here—he spends the next 50 percent of the evening on an adrenaline-and/or-acid-fueled adventure that has considerably less to do with saving Nick than with Connie’s personal survival.
All of this is occurring in the most aesthetically disagreeable film you’ve ever noticed this side of John Waters. Superior Time is loud, jittery, propelled by an panic-inducing digital rating, and queasily neon. Director of photography Sean Price tag Williams shoots the matter nearly totally in shut-ups of everyone’s artificial-light-weight-bathed pores and neck hairs the only time he eases up into a large shot is not to give us any reduction from our claustrophobia but to present us a male jumping from a 12th-story window. I think his operate is fantastic, but I also think the Safdies are a sprint insane for committing so thoroughly to a cinematic eyesight that is oriented toward neither rigorous documentary realism nor palatable leisure.
Yet in some way I experienced a great time with this film. I attribute this mainly to Pattinson, who’s a mesmerizing existence as he saunters and skedaddles in what is usually an unforgivable part. Connie keeps dropping into other people’s lives in medias res and ruining them with his solitary-minded, narcissistic pursuit of his ambitions at the expense of everyone’s well-being. Whatsoever else Superior Time is—and it does admittedly go to greater lengths than most American films to humanize those residing at the furthest, dirtiest margins of our society—it’s a good story about the causality of conceitedness. As opposed to so a lot of other modern-day antiheroes, Connie’s vices don’t go unpunished his actions have sickeningly palpable outcomes his homecoming under no circumstances will come.
As a substitute we observe as selfishness unravels every thing he touches, under no circumstances much more upsettingly than when we return to Nick in a “one 7 days later” form of epilogue. Nick’s in a new therapy system, in which a chipper teacher asks her course a collection of icebreaking thoughts to loosen them up. For two whole minutes, Nick sits stonily by way of all of her prompts. When she finally instructs her students to cross the room if they’ve ever not gotten together with a household member, he does not want to think two times.
Tim Markatos is a writer residing in Washington, D.C.