Being selfish is quite easy, in fact it might be one of the easiest things to do in our lives. Selfishness doesn’t always have to be negative, but when it consumes you it is more than toxic, especially in the world of addiction recovery. Now while not everyone is versed in the world of recovery there has been a hopeful uptick in the past several years of more education for those that are personally involved as well as those that know someone who battles an ongoing disease. Through all the education, meetings, readings and much more one thing is for certain; nobody can do this alone. Therefore selfishness doesn’t have a great reputation in the world of addicts. GOD’S TIME, the adrenaline rushed nonstop and very funny look at the world of addiction/recovery from Daniel Antebi might be the biggest surprise out of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. An empathetic look at those in recovery, but it also never hides from the reality of both the selfishness and male aggressiveness that often seeks through the rooms that are meant to be a safe space. The film is also a love letter to NYC and those crazy one night fever dreams that could make a brilliant triple feature with the likes of Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours” and the Safdies’ “Good Time.” In other words the film is a fucking riot fully brought to life by its three lead performers. The film is here to not just be an eye opener to the reality so many people face, it it also just wants to have an outrageous wild night. Buckle in because your world is now on “God’s Time.”
Dev (a terrific Ben Groh) rocking some serious Jerry Garcia 70’s hair is an addict, if you can’t figure that out from the church basement, chairs in a circle and the group of people sharing about their life’s struggles and accomplishments. Dev is not just our lead he is our narrator as reliable as he can be. Antebi opens his film up with a jazz score seething through the background before turning up to eleven as we see the world of narcotics anonymous meetings that feels like a daily pattern involving people sharing the same story as they fill needed. One of these participants is Regina (Liz Caribel Sierra a wonderful find channeling authentic New York energy) who talks about her ex-boyfriend who kicked her out and stole her dog. She claims to have a gun and wants to kill him but as Antebi gives us a montage of Regina delivering the same share each day both in and out of the rooms we see that she won’t go through with it since she believes he will die in “God’s Time.” Before you have the chance to roll your eyes at the dropping of the film’s name title in such sincerity, Dev breaks the fourth wall and delivers the title in an almost Pimp Your Ride spray paint font across the screen, The filmmakers are more than aware of the humor they are creating both intentionally and subconsciously.
Dev’s best friend is also an addict, Luca (Dion Costelloe channeling the same energy that made Christopher Abbott an indie star) and the two of them are clearly infatuated with Regina and want to take it beyond the rooms (a big no-no in the world of recovery). Dev and Luca spend their time outside of meetings reading lines and hoping for a call back for something involving Staten Island firefighters, (Dev breaking the fourth wall again to remind us that he looks more like Gollum than a firefighter). They are brothers even if they live in two separate worlds, Dion the more straightforward while Dev lives in his own cinematic universe which is shown as he bikes down a nearly empty New York City street to his own theme song. (God’s Time takes place and was shot during 2020 at the height of the first pandemic lockdown). But when Regina again shares that she will kill her boyfriend but doesn’t end her share with saying “God’s Time” Dev goes into hyper alert and believes she will actually go through with shooting him. Thus sets off a crazy twenty-four hours that can only happen in New York City.
Antebi, who also wrote the script, creates an intriguing look at how selfishness in the world of addiction can reach new levels. This is never done in a way that will make non addicts fear someone anytime they learn of their disease, but rather illustrate how the lives outside of the meetings still are brought back to the the small knit community of those in recovery in some truly outrageous but realistic ways. As Dev and Luca try to stop Regina from committing a crime they encounter old timers threating to beat them up, bottles of piss and a hysterical mother obsessed with theme parks. Their nighttime odyssey to save Regina is quickly seen as two men trying to save a woman who needs to go on her own journey Two addicts who know that one can never be forced into recovery are doing exactly that. Much like Robert Pattinson in “Good Time”, both Dev and Luca are oblivious to their own behavior and privilege. Regina, who is all alone regardless of some mid act reveals, must take her own journey way outside the lives of these two men. Groh and Costelloe are terrific together at being best friends (it helps that they are good friends in real life creating a real time odd couple) that you always feel that one can easily convince the other even when they know the situation is wrong. Besides their drug of choice, they are also addicted to one another even if they don’t fully realize it. Instead they force their neediness onto Regina when it should be redirected at one another.
God’s Time wants you to feel good though, and it takes advantage of every obstacle thrown in its way. Filmed during a time where every writer was rushing to create their own end of the world pandemic script, Antebi instead uses covid and mask mandates as just another prop. As someone shares in a meeting everyone else must mask up, and even if it was never planned Antebi can use this form of masking up as a way to silence everyone else while giving the spotlight to those that are now sharing their story. This is crucial for a film that involves two best friends, one quiet and one that can never shut up. But thankfully outside of that the pandemic is never used as a story device, no the world of addiction never took a rest just because COVID-19 heighten up. Meetings still occurred and insanity still ensued. God’s Time is not just the little film that could, but also one that could easily become another cult classic (it practically yells for A24 to pick it up). It is the kind of film that you hope you find walking into a film festival and as this critic gets a little too personal all I can say is that God’s Time hits home in all the right places and will be remembered one day at a time, but even the most foreign to the subject can fall easily for its hysterical and chaotic approach. So while accepting a higher power is far from many people’s bucket list, one thing that is for certain is that we should all at least give ourselves over to Antebi’s God’s Time and let the rest fall into place.
GOD’S TIME PREMIERED AT THE 2022 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL. IT IS CURRENTLY SEEKING U.S. DISTRIBUTION