Being that this has been one of the most talked about films that has floated under the radar (at least as far as some sites I visit go), I had to give it a chance. I watched the trailer, and it looked like it could be a fun, gritty time. On top of that, it looked like Mr. Sparkle, himself, Robert Pattinson, is taking on a rather serious acting role here. Thankfully, he's pulling a Leo DiCaprio, also known as a Ryan Gosling, and breaking free of that teen-girl-crush stereotype.
The movie follows two brothers, Connie (short for Constantine, and the guy Pattinson plays) and Nick, Connie's mentally challenged brother (portrayed by one of the directors here, Benny Safdie). In the opening of the film, the two try to pull of a bank robbery. It goes over well until they are confronted by cops and a panicked Nick runs for it. Nick gets arrested, but Connie manages to escape. He then tries using the robbery money to try to secure a bail bond for his brother. Unfortunately, it's not enough, and the rest of the movie is a stylish and tense portrayal of Connie's search for the rest of the money. So, it doesn't sound like a lot, and fairly unexciting, but the basic plot isn't what ends up making the movie enjoyable.
First of all, let's talk about Pattinson. Truth be told, he's pretty much acting his ass off here, and his performance has actually allowed me to look at him in a brand new light. I never hated the guy or anything, but I had yet to see the performance that would sell me on him being a great actor. This happened to be that performance - albeit, at times, this is a very sleazy and uncomfortable character. You develop a love/hate thing with him. You love him for trying to get his brother out of jail, but you hate him when... well, I'm just gonna say it 'cause it's very uncomfortable... he takes advantage of a 16-year-old girl of color... which, yeah... it was overall unnecessary to any sort of plot, and was seemingly just thrown in to mess with us and make us feel terribly uncomfortable. So you could say that this wasn't 100% enjoyable to yours truly, and it's made even worse by what's happening in Hollywood right now. I would assume that our discomfort was the point, but like torture porn, it's not something I particularly like to sit through. At the end of it all, it's a pretty dynamite performance though.
Onto other things, I had to give the movie credit for having the characters feel very real, and it does a good job at setting a very intensely suspenseful atmosphere with things like lighting and the score. Now, the score DID get on my nerves after a while, but I can't deny that there was an odd effectiveness to it. It's very much just dark, synthesized tones that get more intense as the suspense picks up. So, though it managed to get under my skin, personally, I can still understand why people are seeing it as one of the movie's better qualities.
The only things I have generally negative to say about it are that it's just too simple of an idea, and none of the characters themselves were particularly likable. For the most part, you end up just getting a kick out of them making stupid decisions that lead to things getting worse for them.
So, I really didn't love this like so many people did because I just didn't get what was INCREDIBLY appealing about it. But for the things about it I did manage to enjoy, I enjoyed a lot. It's a very small, independent film though, and it just is what it is. You'll love it, you'll hate it, or you'll be like me and meet somewhere in the middle.