Today in Exploring Soundtracks, we’ll be looking at a film released last year starring Robert Pattinson, that surprisingly has nothing to do with romance or vampires. “Good Time” is a 2017 film directed by the Safdie Brothers and distributed by A24.
The soundtrack for the film was composed by electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never, and released on Warp Records in 2017. Oneohtrix Point Never is the pseudonym of the Brooklyn-based experimental musician Daniel Lopatin. As Daniel Lopatin, he has contributed to the film scores for “The Bling Ring” in 2013, and “Partisan” in 2015.
“Good Time” follows the story of Constantine “Connie” Nikas (Robert Pattinson). After his mentally handicapped younger brother Nick (Benny Safdie) lands in jail, Connie embarks on a desperate journey to get him out. Over the course of one high-octane night, Connie descends into the New York underground in a mad effort to race the clock and save his brother’s life.
Oneohtrix Point Never sets an anxious tone for the opening shot of the film, using synth arpeggios with a retro tone. This unsettling tone bleeds into the fabric of each scene, as we see Connie pushed into increasingly more stressful situations. “Good Time” is very much a character film. As we begin to see how manipulative and merciless Connie can be, more of his character is revealed through the score. He’s so focused on getting his brother back, that he becomes willing to screw over everyone in his path unless he has something to gain from them.
Seeing Robert Pattinson take on the role of a sleazy sociopath was pretty satisfying. And Oneohtrix Point Never’s score does an incredible job at portraying his inner state. Instead of the easy choice of ominous, droning synths, Lopatin brings everything up close and personal. The distorted, whining guitars and razor-thin synth leads mirror how on edge Connie is throughout the film.
In an interview with The Fader, Lopatin adds that, “It was creating the energy rush that you needed for it to feel like a thriller, but it also embodied the characters’ personal ambitions and doubts. The things that aren’t really said”.
The last song in the score “The Pure and the Damned”, is a slow ballad featuring Iggy Pop, that plays in while the credits run down over the film’s epilogue scene. Pop’s lyrics frame a strange dream of a place where you can “pet the crocodiles”. “I ain’t going to get there”, he says between singing, “But it’s a nice dream. It’s a nice dream”.
This is exactly how music should be approached, for character films, especially. Music is the perfect vehicle for communicating emotion. And the way Lopatin does it immediately puts you on the edge of your seat. You share Connie’s emotional state for almost the entire length of the film, while arpeggios run over white noise.
This is such a visually-striking and stylized movie, that I think it could have benefited from some musical sync-up moments. The heart-pumping chases set to Oneohtrix Point Never’s anxiety-inducing tracks would be so great. Like a super-gritty version of “Baby Driver”. Except the protagonist is a scumbag and the ending is a little more bitter than sweet.
If you haven’t seen “Good Time” yet, go do yourself a favor and watch it. I thoroughly enjoyed this non-stop ride. And Oneohtrix Point Never’s soundtrack is nothing but masterfully crafted.