There is a lovely scene in the new movie, Good Time, where a middle-aged man goes to a shop to buy a miniature bottle of whisky. The shop assistant says: “That’s not actually what we sell.” The man replies: “I know, I’m looking for my little brother’s ashes.”
This is a reference to a real-life situation in which a man named Robert Pattinson bought a bottle of whisky as a present for his brother, Alexander. Back in 2011, Alexander was found dead in a hotel bathtub, and Robert wanted to give him some sort of ceremony. When he went back to the shop where he bought the bottle, the assistant pointed out that they didn’t actually stock the item, but gave him directions to another shop nearby. This time he bought a bottle of champagne, which he opened during a family meal later that day.
Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll know the scene. The dialogue is funny and the visual gags are plentiful. It’s fair to say that this is a very tasteful love scene. But is it really just about sex?
Let’s rewind a bit. Robert Pattinson was recently in the news because of a cheating scandal. He had an affair with his girlfriend and paparazzi photos of them kissing were published. After the revelation of the photos, many people speculated about the state of their relationship, which Pattinson had denied was a problem. At the time, he said that he and his girlfriend were just focused on their careers. And yet, in an interview, he said that he still loved her. A lot. Whether this was just a convenient lie or he genuinely feels this way about her still remains to be seen.
Regardless, the affair had obviously caused a strain in his marriage. And it wasn’t just a one-off instance of “he said, she said.” It was a pattern that had been established over the course of their relationship. Pattinson had previously cheated on his wife with two other women. One of them was the mother of his children. (Yes, he is the father.) This is a man who clearly has some issues when it comes to being faithful. And that’s not all. He had also publicly described himself as “crazy, unreliable and a bad guy.” So, it would seem that cheating and lying were pretty much the order of the day for Robert Pattinson.
Is It “Just” About Sex?
In Good Time, the male character’s relationship with his brother’s ashes is presented as a way of exploring the nature of human connection. It’s fair to say that this topic has been broached before in other films, most notably in the 2006 documentary Klove (2006), which examines the nature of brotherly love and its opposite, hatred. In addition to this, the 1995 French romantic comedy, Comme des Garçons, examines the issue from a different perspective. (No surprise there.)
The trailer for Good Time plays like a romance, albeit a comical one, and it’s hard not to be drawn in by Pattinson’s charm and easy smile. (Yes, he is very attractive.) But is this just another example of male desire being played for laughs, or does the film have something more profound to say about the nature of romance, and the family that forms behind it?
On one level, Pattinson’s character is looking for connection. As mentioned, he’s searching for his brother’s ashes, which he intends to scatter at sea. He wants to give his love to his brother in a way that feels genuine. He wants to be able to say that he’s sorry for not being there for him during his time of need. He also wants the brotherly bond to provide him with some protection in the face of the world, especially since his life seems to be falling apart around him.
By purchasing a bottle of whisky and opening it during a family meal, the character provides a nice metaphor for the brotherly bond. The bottle represents their relationship: full of awkward tension and competitive malice, but ultimately, deeply connected. (In case you were wondering, the film’s titular character is played by Pattinson.)
In terms of the nature of this connection, it’s revealing that the character decides to purchase the bottle of whisky in the first place. He had previously denied that there was any problem with their relationship, saying that he and his girlfriend were just “bromancing” and that everything was “okay.” But now that he’s in crisis mode, the bottle represents the problem that he’s been denying. (Of course, in real life, this problem would have manifested itself in many different ways – cheating, lying, and so forth – but here, it takes the form of a bottle of whisky, which, as we know, is a classic problem solving mechanism for men.)
It’s also interesting that the character doesn’t just want to “bromance” with his brother. He wants to have sex with him. Specifically, he wants to have anal sex with him. (Yes, he’s a very sexual person.) And not just any sex. He wants the kind of sex that feels “right.” (The trailer for the film suggests that this may have something to do with the absence of his brother during his time of need. Being with someone who understands you, and knows what you’re going through, can provide a sense of comfort and protection.)
Is It Just “Tasteful”?
Not all of the dialogue and situations in Good Time are intended to be taken seriously. At least, not at first glance. Take the male character’s request for sexual favors from a particularly voluptuous woman. It would seem that in his earlier days, Pattinson had experimented with polyamory, which he described as “a form of loving that doesn’t limit itself to one person.” (In case you were wondering, the film’s leading lady is played by Elle Fanning.)
Is it wrong to want to have sex with more than one person? Is it perversion? Or is it just a matter of personal preference? In Good Time, it’s a little of both. The character’s desires are presented as a form of self-expression, but not all of the situations are meant to be taken at face value. For example, the scene in which he has sex with the particularly voluptuous woman – played by Fanning – is clearly intended to be humorous. This is supported by the fact that the character is seen wearing a ridiculous outfit (leather jacket, jeans, and pink shoes), which was apparently meant to be incredibly humorous. (It’s not a coincidence that the scene involves a leopard-print ensemble.)
It’s also interesting that in this scene, the female character’s name is Mary. It’s often the case that in humorous situations, the names of the characters are altered or changed, as a way of establishing a double entendre or a play on words. This can be a fun way of creating comedy, but it also allows the narrative to comment on society and the way that it functions. In Good Time, the character’s quest for sexual gratification, expressed via repeated requests for “Mary,” offers a humorous commentary on the “me-first” culture that Taylor Swift was recently criticized for epitomizing.
This is a man who clearly still has a problem with women. He feels that they’ve let him down and he wants to make up for lost time. As he is shown scrawling his desires on a board, it’s clear that this is a form of self-expression that he feels comfortable sharing with others. This is a man who wants to be heard, even if he doesn’t always know how to listen. It’s not easy to admit that you need help, particularly when you’re used to being in charge of your own life. But as his brother’s death scene, where he is faced with the magnitude of his grief, makes clear, this is a man who has plenty to grieve over. This is a man who, at the end of the day, just wants to be loved.
Is it wrong to want to have sex with more than one person? Again, not all of the situations and dialogue are intended to be taken seriously. Some of it is clearly tongue-in-cheek, but even the more serious scenes provide a subtle commentary on the nature of human connection. The issue of cheating and lying is addressed again in the scene in which the character plans to meet with his brother’s former lover and discuss the possibility of reconciling. It’s clear that the character still has a lot to work through, and this is a woman, who, it would seem, is just as attractive as his other lovers. (Yes, Elle Fanning is very beautiful. But so is Rosaline Courbet, the actress who plays the character’s wife, and the late Sara Taylor, the actress who plays his mother.)