Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems is an exercise of extreme tension, about two hours of adrenaline and pure discomfort, in which a viewer is able to witness the tremendous mistakes that an impulsive and irresponsible man can make. It’s not a conventionally “entertaining” type of experience from both ends, but chances are it’s a film that you will not be able to forget in a long time.
Equally important is that the previous film by the Safdie brothers, Good Time, had some similarities. Just as the movie had as its protagonist an undervalued artist, Robert Pattinson, willing to demonstrate his acting rank. This time, we have an Adam Sandler who is stepping outside his comfort zone.
Brief Intro & Plot Summary
- Release Date: 2019
- Running Time: 2h15m
- Directors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
- Genre: Crime, comedy, drama
- Cast: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, LaKeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel
- IMDb Rating: 7.4/10
The movie takes place in 2012, and stars Howard Ratner (played by Adam Sandler), a New York Jew who owns a diamond store. At the beginning of the movie, we witness the accelerated pace of his life: customers entering and leaving his store, talking at the same time, screaming and laughing, the phone ringing almost all the time, and more hustle and bustle business-type-of-things.
It is when we would see for the first time that Howard uses both the money and the goods he gets from the people he works with, to place bets and pay old debts. As of 2023, the technology has been booming and providing us with even more chances to wager, as Bovada betting website does with both its casino and sports offerings. The things to keep in mind, however – which form of betting would you choose – is to gamble responsibly
From there, we realize that our protagonist is not someone especially responsible with his finances or with his own business. And things are worse at home.
What from the outside seems to be a completely normal family life, is actually something much more problematic. Howard loves his three children, yes, but he is about to separate from his wife, Dinah (Idina Menzel). And although he feels quite happy with his girlfriend, the attractive Julia (Julia Fox), it is a relationship that seems to hang by a thread, just like the rest of his life.
Howard Ratner & Adam Sandler’s Performance
To begin with, Howard is a tremendously complicated and vulnerable character; he is charismatic, yes, but at the same time unable to resist the things he enjoys in life, such as money, gambling and sex. Seeing him make decisions, risky and irresponsible, is like witnessing a vehicle accident without being able to do anything about it. All the viewer has left is simply to see the crash and pray that nothing bad happens to those involved.
The decision to choose Adam Sandler as the protagonist is simply brilliant. One is used to seeing the undervalued actor in idiotic comedies, always playing immature and childish men supposedly “adorable.” And yes, Uncut Gems is certainly more serious and complicated than any of its lighter proposals. The movie’s interpretation works precisely because it feels like a deconstruction of its most popular characters. On the other hand, Howard is as irresponsible and decadent as any of the protagonists of his comedies.
Comedic Relief Amidst the Mesmerizing Chaos
As the movie goes on, things don’t get better for Howard, unfortunately. When the protagonist manages to get a rock full of multicolored opals, he decides to put it up for auction, as if to win a few thousand dollars and pay off his debts. But since nothing in Howard’s life is easy, he will be involved with some imposing gangsters who want to see his head roll. But the game changer for him will be the meeting with both NBA player Kevin Garnett (layed by himself), who is obsessed with the stone, and his dangerous friend Demany (played by LaKeith Stanfield).
Will Howard really be able to auction his new acquisition? One thing is for sure: watching Uncut Gems is a frantic experience. Even though the story begins unexpectedly slowly, once the main conflict is established and developed, all one does is see Howard make mistake after mistake, getting involved with increasingly dangerous people, risking the stability of his family and personal life.
Why is Uncut Gems a Masterpiece?
Top put it shortly, the riveting film is not your average whodunit. It’s a heart-pumping thriller that doesn’t rely on finding the guilty party to captivate its audience. The movie seamlessly creates comedic relief amidst the chaos and does it without a single forced punchline or something else. And when it is technically a story about redemption (like with many movies’ motifs), it doesn’t get bogged down in tropes of morality at all.
All things considered, we want to mention that only the creative minds of the Safdie brothers from “The City That Never Sleeps” could have designed such an intellectually stimulating sort of production. Uncut Gems is a wild ride that will leave you uneasy yet thoroughly entertained till the end.