Oneohtrix Point Never's soundtrack for Good Time offers roller-coaster ride

Crime thrillers are fuelled by action, but the best of them get under your skin, with their characters staying with you long after the credits roll. Films such as Michael Mann's Heat (1995) and Christopher Nolan's Memento (2000) unsettle and haunt.

Put Good Time, a strange, troubling heist-gone-wrong outing helmed by the New York guerilla film-makers, Josh and Benny Safdie, to this illustrious list.

Shot in a fast-and-loose technique in Queens, New York, it stars a barely recognisable Robert Pattinson as Connie Nikas, who resorts to desperate ends to get his mentally challenged younger brother, Nick, out of jail after a botched bank robbery.

You hang on to your seat, not knowing what is going to happen next. It is a heady, breathless, almost tactile romp through the inner sanctum of the city, inside the minds of Connie and Nick.

A key factor is the pulsating soundtrack by New York-based electronic whiz Oneohtrix Point Never, also known as Daniel Lopatin, which justly won the Soundtrack award at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Mirroring a roller-coaster ride, it provides an objective correlative to the film, an exact and exacting psychological profile of characters who make wrong, if well-meaning, decisions, then react to circumstances beyond their control.

It starts off with the title track: shimmering synths slowly awakening, belying bottled tension, which is unleashed mid-way. The escalating riff is a constant riding over undulating organ and, sometimes, sublimated in a sea of white noise.

  • ELECTRONICA

  • GOOD TIME: ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE 

    SOUNDTRACK 

    Oneohtrix Point Never 

    Warp

    4/5 Stars

Lopatin stitches dialogue from the film as accents, or emotional markers, in this journey. The voice of Jennifer Jason Leigh, who plays Connie's sometime girlfriend manipulated into lending him bail money, is altered in Bail Bonds: softly then becoming unhinged, a hair-raising yelp as the music ratchets up into a bothersome drone.

In Ray Wakes Up, a conversation between a teenage girl and her grandmother in their home weaves in and out of the psyche of Connie, as the beatless music remains suspended, a reprieve from the craziness of the manhunt outside. At the same time, you know that the latter is plotting something, but what? You root for him and, at the same time, you do not.

Romance Apocalypse, likewise, is yin and yang in a canister. It is a cinematic take on Depeche Mode via Krautrock. As the song title suggests, it is a contrarian situation and the protagonist may well just be an adrenaline-junkie, whose every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Drums resonate, refracted into sharp shards. Love hurts.

The head-trip ends with a stark piano dirge featuring Iggy Pop channelling the spirit of Leonard Cohen or Johnny Cash. The singer intones, a grizzled soothsayer who has kind words for the fallen: "The damned always act from love."

• Good Time, brought in by Anticipate Pictures, is showing at The Arts House's Screening Room till Jan 10. Go to good-time.peatix.com for timings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2017, with the headline 'Roller-coaster ride through the city'. Print Edition | Subscribe