Uncut Gems is a turbulent masterpiece, directed with agility and bravado by The Safdie Brothers and acted with an Oscar-worthy performance by Adam Sandler. This 100-mile-a-minute look at the colorful life of a seedy jeweler just might be one of this year's best films when it's all said and done.
Benny and Josh Safdie‘s latest film Uncut Gems is one of the most notable films of the year, providing viewers with a fascinating look at the life of a New York City jeweler, played with sleazy and addictive determination by Adam Sandler, in a role that rightfully should earn him not only an Oscar nomination, but a secured win as his Howard Ratner is the most entertaining character to grace the silver screen in the year of 2019.
Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a semi-successful jeweler working within a cut-throat industry with not a care in the world. Howard’s ability to slang expensive product is unrivaled — he’s able to sell and buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items before he has time to sit down for his morning coffee. If you think that is impressive, then wait until he starts chasing after lunch or a mid-afternoon snack.
Uncut Gems is essentially a day in the life of Howard Ratner, only this time with a splash of Kevin Garnett (yes — that Kevin), The Weeknd and an assortment of equally wild, but not nearly as engaging characters.
Howard is blood-thirsty and remorseless, unable to comprehend emotions that don’t include anger or desperation.
He’s a shark swimming in an ocean full of mega-sharks and yet somehow, he manages to keep afloat long enough to push someone else under for fish food before someone comes biting at his own toes.
Watching Adam Sandler play Howard Ratner is the most nail-biting, yet entertaining experience that you will surely have at a cinema this year. Uncut Gems might be billed as an A24 “indie” drama, but it will surely keep your heart racing as Howard continues down his destructive path of selling, loaning, buying and loaning some more. My heart almost couldn’t take another one of Howard’s “deals”, because there’s just so much riding on each and every one of his transactions and The Safdie Brothers must be applauded for directing Uncut Gems with such strong senses.
Uncut Gems is a fast-paced no-holds-barred deep-dive into the underground jewelry world and The Safdie Brothers‘ script (also written by Ronald Bronstein) does not make time to stop and grab your hand — it expects you to jump in without a seatbelt and to hold on for dear life.
The opening five minutes sets the entire pace for the rest of the film, throwing you into a never-ending world of exchanges and deals that are happening so fast. Your mind and body will either adjust or Uncut Gems will be a 2-hour exercise in eye coordination, as your eyeballs quickly shift to various parts of the screen, while the tight editing and accompanies the punchy script.
Uncut Gems is a movie about so many things. There are a million moving parts that are constantly on and always grinding to keep the film front-and-center, breaking down characters and moments of the plot that can be picked apart under a microscope for hours.
My blunt takeaway is that Uncut Gems is about a man that literally shits out luck — the film opens in the canal of his asshole and never truly gets out of it until the very end. What we are witnessed to is two hours of sleazy, blind luck that feels as filthy and as morally screwed as you’d think — I can only imagine how bad Howard’s tiny little jewelry shop smelled after a long day of sales.
Yet Adam Sandler‘s twisted sense of righteousness makes this a journey worth taking. His dumb and annoying Howard is his best on-screen portrayal yet — give him the damn Oscar already. On one hand, you have to feel for a guy that on the surface appears to be trying to sort his life out and get things back in line — Howard has brief moments of clarity as he sees what he is doing to his family is only tearing them apart and leaving him without a single person that truly loves him, while on the other hand, you just can’t look away at his surefire downfall, watching as he self-destructs in goofball fashion. To say that Howard is a complex character, littered with insecurities, would barely be scratching at the surface of his insanity.
Uncut Gems is unapologetically Adam Sandler‘s masterpiece, attempting to make up for years of wasted talent. Sandler has always been more than capable to produce this level of quality, but he’s never really needed to. I am glad that he teamed up with The Safdie Brothers and I hope he does so again in the near future.
I feel very strongly that Uncut Gems is a film that is going to catch most off guard. Go into it knowing very little (nothing if possible) and you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. It’s a one-man show that is held up by Sandler’s performance, but made more potent because of The Safdie Brothers‘ particular vision — this film very much has its own look and feel that is unshakable and either something that is going to pull you in deeper or leave you feeling confused and possibly annoyed. I for one fell in love with it and cannot wait to champion it in the months/years to come.
Uncut Gems is Adam Sandler‘s best film yet and a shining example of the beating heart of cinema. Those that say great films don’t exist anymore are clearly looking in the wrong place, because Uncut Gems is one of 2019’s best films.