Uncut Gems, set amidst the bustle of New York, follows Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) as a jeweler and a compulsive gambling addict. Through the course of the film, what can only be described as a series of unfortunate events take place owing to bad decisions made by the morally ambiguous protagonist. The film is a crash course for the average individual on what exactly not to do in a wide variety of your everyday situations involving loan sharks, a rare black opal from Ethiopia, gambling, NBA players, and The Weeknd.
Adam Sandler is an actor that can boast a unique filmography, ranging from the likes of Jack and Jill and Grown Ups to Punch Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories. With Uncut Gems, the Sandman once again proves that with the right material, he can deliver a glorious dramatic performance. He has a phenomenal cast of supporting actors at his side that elevates his performance and the film, including Kevin Garnett and debutant Julia Fox.
Uncut Gems has gained a title, among critics and audiences alike, of being the most stressful film of 2019 and I do hereby concur with this well-earned characterization. The stress induced from scenes that simmer with gradual tension, culminating in a loud climax, quick-paced dialogue, and Howard’s decision making is as claustrophobic as his tiny jewelry shop with its broken door. Josh and Benny Safdie masterfully direct this wide expanse of content and character through a narrow field with a clear vision of the contained, sensory chaos they deliver on the big screen.
The film is a brilliantly executed cacophony of dialogue and action as each character tries to overtake the other, creating a raw and tense environment in which the actors thrive. This further reinforces the rhythm of the film and every beat contributes to a compelling, albeit stressful, watch.
What truly corroborates this description is that the only tranquility to be found, within the entire 135-minute runtime, is in a scene depicting a psychedelic transition from the inside of an opal to the inside of Howard’s colon during a colonoscopy. What exactly a transition from an opal to a human colon means and translates into in terms of cinematic visuals can only be discovered by visiting a local showing of Uncut Gems, which I highly recommend.