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More than a soundtrack in search of a movie, though Daniel Lopatin’s propulsive electronic score displays an excellence and precision that most decidedly does not come through in cinematographer Sean Price Williams’ beyond-extensive use of closeups. Star Robert Pattinson can act, and he’s not hard to look at. But to justify the amount of acreage his face occupies for what seems like half the film, his young mug would have to fascinate, to serve as a clear expression of the complicated machinations below its surface. It doesn’t, and with good reason: it wouldn’t make sense for the part. Pattinson’s desperate character is, more than anything else, an animal operating on instinct: avoid capture, protect the pack (in this case, a mentally challenged brother who just wants to be able to “do what I want when I want.”). And while his instincts are sharp, he’s not so great at thinking things through. It could be argued that the film’s whole point is the stupidity of youth, the belief that the old have nothing to offer but restriction, frustration, and in a pinch, material support. If that’s the case, then it’s an honest portrait, if an unattractive one. And co-directors Bennie and Josh Safdie excel at catching the feel of those who really are living on the edge: struggling immigrants, hopeless ex-cons, and the tortured souls who cannot build a life with their pieces of the broken world. Maybe it’s not their fault that this dark joyride offers neither an ordered route nor a satisfying destination. (2017) — Matthew Lickona

Rated R | 1 hour, 40 minutes
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