Uncut Gems Image

Uncut Gems

By Alan Ng | May 25, 2020

After watching Uncut Gems, every part of my being is exhausted. “Intense” is a gross understatement. I’m walking away feeling like this film is a sadistic exercise in how to emotionally and physically manipulate an audience. I suppose this is a good thing. Great movies should intentionally make you feel something, whether its love, inspiration, or in this case, dread with a dash of hopelessness. Don’t get me wrong, I love Uncut Gems.

There are two undeniable stars of this film. For starters, this movie could not have been made without Adam Sandler. Fans will understand this because he’s nailed down the “unlikable, but sweet” roles in comedy ever since the beginning of his career. In Uncut Gems, he brings his unlikeable sweetness to the dark, dramatic thriller. Whatever bias you may have about Sandler’s comedies fade away here. Sandler gives a genuine and physically brutal performance of a man who’s trying to stay one step ahead of total collapse.

“…this film is a sadistic exercise in how to emotionally and physically manipulate an audience.”

The second star is the story by the Safdie Brothers. Everyone’s going to call Uncut Gems a roller-coaster ride, and they’d be right. We ascend upward as Howard figures a way out of his major predicament. Then we fly over the apex as the plan is in motion, and the high-speed descent sends us through sharp turns, banks, and inversion as his plan all falls apart. The Safdie Brothers also brilliantly stay a few steps ahead as you never see the next turn coming. It all ends with an abrupt, yet satisfying, stop at the end.

It’s not all twists and turns. Quiet moments are brought in before each ascent to serve as a momentary rest from the insanity. The best of these moments come from the two female leads: Idina Menzel and Julia Fox. Both actors play very different versions of the women in his life and bring out Ratner’s desperation and depravity.

Speaking of its supporting cast, every player is equally good at supporting this complex story, including its non-actors: Kevin Garnett and The Weeknd. It’s a strong ensemble from start to finish and their sole purpose to support the Safdie’s well-developed story (another good ensemble can be found in Ford v Ferrari). I loved Uncut Gems. It’s a brutal watch, and my nerves are still too frazzled to see it again, but I will.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Directed: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Written: Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Starring: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel, LaKeith Stanfield, Eric Bogosian, Kevin Garnett, The Weeknd, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Uncut Gems Image

"…he brings his unlikeable, sweetness to the dark, dramatic thriller."

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