I have been a fan of Charlie Rose since long before I knew who Robin Williams was. I have always admired his ability to ask questions that get at the heart of an issue and to keep his guests comfortable during the interview. I was also impressed by the breadth of his interviews – he regularly speaks with people from many different perspectives and often gets people to open up about issues that they would not usually discuss on TV. So it was a no-brainer for me when they announced that he would be interviewing Robert Pattinson about his new movie, ‘Good Time’, which opens in cinemas next Friday.
I had seen ‘Good Time’ a few months ago at the cinema and really enjoyed it, so I was curious to learn more about the film and the process of making it. I was also interested in the contrast between the relatively relaxed atmosphere of the film and the highly charged political climate in today’s world, so I thought this would make for an interesting conversation. It is always a good idea to reflect on the issues that matter today and to hear from different perspectives. Besides, I have never interviewed Robert Pattinson, so this would be a treat.
The Good Time Movie
‘Good Time’ is the story of Nikki, who is living a hedonistic lifestyle in Sydney while playing in a popular band. After a gig goes wrong and one of her bandmates is injured, she is forced to return to her home in London for a couple of months to see how he fares. There she reconnects with an old friend, James, and meets a new friend, Spencer, who encourages her to embrace her “good time” attitude and live life to its fullest. ‘Good Time’ is a satire of the modern day hedonistic lifestyle that we have all come across in some form or another. The characters are loosely based on real people, and the situations are humorous, yet have a serious undertone. It is a very British film, with a strong representation of English humour. The characters are intelligent, well-read, and articulate, with the occasional one-liner serving as a comedic punctuation mark. The dialogue is fresh and often funny, but the themes of depression, anorexia and addiction are never far from the surface. In some ways, it is very reminiscent of the ‘Pink Floyd’ album, ‘The Wall’, with its opening sequence set in London, featuring a live performance by the band inside an old bank building. It’s interesting how the director, Matthew Vaughn, has said that, in some ways, this is his “darkest film yet”‘ (The Guardian).
I would not normally include a trailer in a review, but for ‘Good Time’, I thought it would be an appropriate place to do so. Here it is:
From the first moments of the trailer, we are introduced to Nikki, who is shown partying it up in Sydney while on holiday. We soon learn that she is an addict, with a particular fondness for cocaine, and that her hedonistic lifestyle is in fact a way of coping with her depression and anorexia. She sees going to parties as a way of establishing new connections and making new friends, which we soon learn provides her with a sense of purpose and pride. Like many addicts, she is driven to want more and more, and in this case, she is driven to drink and drug abuse. We are also introduced to James, who is described by the press as “the love interest’, who encourages her to have a good time whilst she is in Sydney. He is there to support her through a rough patch in her life, but he too is drawn into her addiction. At the beginning of the film, he encourages her to attend a party in support of an old schoolmate, who is also a musician. She agrees, but on the way there, she stops at a liquor shop to buy a bottle of vodka to “chill” with. This is her fourth bottle in as many hours, and she feels she needs something to take the edge off. James is not averse to drinking, but he is an old-school hippie at heart, who disapproves of her chosen path. The film shows us a typical young person’s misguided view of addiction – as a ‘medical issue’ that needs to be treated through medication. Although it is a source of humour, and there is some lighthearted banter between the characters, the underlying issues of depression and addiction are very much alive in this dialogue. Everyone around her encourages her to have fun and be carefree, but she is not yet ready to give up the habits that have made her who she is today. In the second scene, we see her with Spencer, who is initially reluctant to get involved as she has never had a best friend before. However, he encourages her to open up more and trust people, which will prove to be a turning point in their friendship. I would say that this character was inspired by many real-life friends of mine, who have been to similar places. One of them even got married in a chapel in the middle of nowhere, which is where Spencer and Nikki eventually end up. The movie ends with them on a beach, holding each other as the sun begins to set, both looking like they have found a sense of peace. It is not always easy to find meaning in modern life, and this is reflected in the frequent use of ‘God’ in the dialogue and as a reference point. There is also a line about how humanity is a disease and a symptom of some greater flaw in the universe. In these ways, it is a beautiful and passionate love letter to addiction and the people who struggle with it. It is a touching reminder that there is always hope, and that recovery is possible. Not long after its premiere, it was nominated for a BAFTA award for best British film and Charlie Rose praised the directors for capturing “the beauty and pain of being young’ (The Guardian).
Making ‘Good Time’
Although there is a satirical element to ‘Good Time’, it is very much a character-driven film and the performances of the leads are particularly strong. I always think of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ when I think of this movie, as it shares several elements with it, including the over-abundance of white paint, which was everywhere during the shoot of ‘Good Time’. This allowed the team to “paint the town white”‘ as a way of encouraging people to “check it out’ and “have some fun’ (Sydney Morning Herald). The use of excessive makeup and costuming is also something that they drew from, as they wanted the characters to “stand out’ (Herald). The costumes were actually designed by the most famous designer in the world, Christian Dior, so I imagine there will be many fans of hers in this audience.
I have already spoken about the music in the film, as it is a key part of its identity. I would say that the movie was very well-crafted with many authentic touches, such as using real bands and singers and getting the sound right. One of the most interesting things about it is how it manages to be both contemporary and nostalgic, at once. I imagine this was quite a feat for the directors as it was their first time working with so many special effects, as the bulk of the film was obviously shot on set. I would say that the movie successfully juggles several timelines and the music, whilst sounding like something that you would hear at a genuine music festival, it also has the feel of something out of a ‘90s teen comedy. It is these kinds of mixed feelings that make it fresh and interesting. One of the things that attracted me to this movie is how it managed to be both light-hearted and deeply philosophical, something that is quite difficult to pull off. The entire cast and crew seem to genuinely enjoy what they do, and having worked with them, I can certainly understand why.
Overall, I think that ‘Good Time’ is a must-see for any fan of contemporary English literature and music. Apart from being an entertaining and thought-provoking piece of cinema, it also serves as a reminder of the need to care for those whom we love. For those who suffer from addiction, whether it be to drugs or alcohol or gambling, it provides an insight into the issues that they face and the battles that they fight. In addition, it serves as a celebration of those whom we love fighting back against the injustices of this world. The quote that I keep coming back to, time and time again, is one that Naomi, the songwriter in the film, quotes as she contemplates her state as a prisoner of addiction in the first scene: “If I could change one thing about myself, it would be my patience. I would like to be patient enough to let the people around me do the changes I need them to do. That is how things should be done. I should be patient and let the world around me fix itself”.