FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last Friday, I saw “Uncut Gems,” which stars Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, The Cobbler), Idina Menzel (Frozen, Enchanted), Julia Foxx (Puppet, PVT Chat), LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, Get Out), Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory), Keith Williams Richards (Three Deaths [Short]), Tommy Kominik, Judd Hirsch (A Beautiful Mind, Taxi [TV series]), and Kevin Garnett. It is directed by Benny and Josh Safdie (Good Time, Heaven Knows What), who also wrote it with Ronald Bronstein (Frownland, Good Time). The downward spiral of jewler Howard Ratner (Sandler).
The Sandman returns. It’s always a treasure seeing good ole Adam Sandler dipping his toes into serious projects. Granted, I haven’t really seen those films in question (“Punch Drunk Love,” “Reign Over Me,” “Meyerwitz Stories”), but I’ve heard good things. Aren’t I a wonderful movie enthusiast? Yeah, right. Anyway, “Uncut Gems,” the highly anticipated new feature by the Safdie Brothers has finally come to home media and you bet your sorry buns I got my hands on it. The film offers a visceral experience, throwing audiences into the downward spiral of a jeweler who is in way over his head. It’s a non-stop thrill ride, filled with gambling, women, and shaky close-ups. I thought I knew what I was getting into; boy was I wrong. The story is in your face, hardly backing down or giving a moment of reprieve. Howard Ratner is always on the move, whether it’s holding meetings with his debtors, dodging his debtors, or gambling away the money he should be paying to his debtors. It’s quite insane to see how far this guy goes in making a quick buck; he’s always down, yet still acts like he’s on top. What a fascinating character. I was so exhausted taking in this experience that I once checked how far along I was in the movie and found out I had only burned through an hour of the runtime. Yikes. It’s a two hour picture. Double yikes. But that’s not to cut down “Uncut Gems.” While I don’t care for the skanky women, egregious cursing, and sidetracking that is on full display with this feature, it definitely builds itself a world to explore. The characters are interesting and very genuine, especially with the movie’s raw cinematography. Everyone talks over each other, and with quite a few of the camera angles getting in their personal space (up close) things got very uncomfortable. At times I found myself on the edge of my seat, particularly in the third act. It ends in a way I didn’t see coming, and I’m sure most audience members didn’t either. In terms of performances, Sandler delivers. It’s truly one of his best performances to date, embodying this person to a point where I really didn’t see the actor anymore (and they made it difficult with basketball and Jewish traditions being center points of the story). All the other actors did a good job too, like Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, and even Kevin Garnett. The Safdie Brothers pulled off an impressive feat pulling these actors together and making something immersive. Of course, the movie won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not one of those features you see more than once either. “Uncut Gems” is an unrelenting experience with a unique style and natural performances. While it can be a bit too racy, I thought it was very well done; if you’re interested, give it a shot. FINAL SCORE: 90%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: