The comedic powerhouse that is Adam Sandler has yet again flexed his dramatic skills in the new film by Josh and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems. Some will recall Adam Sandler previously playing the strong dramatic role of Charlie Fineman in the 2007 film, Reign Over Me.
In Gems, Sandler completely embodies the lead role of Howard Ratner, an eccentric jewelry store owner with a severe gambling addiction. When his bets don’t pay off, he gets himself into very risky and often dangerous situations in order to make a buck and pay off his debts. Fueled by greed and consistent harassment by a trail of creditors, Howard doesn’t seem to be able to keep his head above water.
Right from the beginning of the film, we get an overall sense of chaos. It begins with chaotic music and over top of the dialogue, to the point where you can’t fully understand everything being said. We follow Howard as he hops from one location to the next, smooth-talking his way through business and personal dealings. The Safdies use the hectic and claustrophobic nature of New York City, mixed with Jewish jeweler culture, to their advantage as it only heightens the chaotic nature of the film.
Howard is quite a selfish character who will do whatever is necessary to get what he wants. After being caught cheating with his girlfriend, Julia (Julia Fox), he becomes separated from his wife, Dinah (Idina Menzel). As he gets caught up in numerous distractions, he seems to have less involvement with his children, From work to gambling to chasing Kevin Durrant for a diamond, Howard essentially has no time left for what’s most important. To top it off, the safety of his family becomes at risk after Howard’s numerous shady actions.
As more and more weight piles on top of Howard’s shoulders, he quickly begins to unravel. Always sly, he soon begins to show his many vulnerabilities and becomes increasingly desperate to fix the trouble that he’s got himself into by doubling down on some of the same behaviours that got him into that place to begin with.
On top of it all, it seems that Howard just longs to be loved. He doesn’t seem to know what he has until it’s gone. He shows remorse, but it’s often too little, too late.
Aside from the incomparable Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems was blessed with a dominant supporting cast, including one of my personal favourites of the film, LaKeith Stanfield, who plays the very convincing plug, Demany. We also see some unsuspecting talent in Kevin Garnett and The Weeknd, who play themselves.
Overall, this is a film that should not be missed, and I would not be shocked to see a number of award nominations for Uncut Gems in the future.
Uncut Gems is scheduled for a limited release in the United States on December 13, 2019, and will be released nationwide on December 25, 2019.