Uncut Gems (2019): Film Review
When the end credits begin to roll in the Safdie Brother's newest film, Uncut Gems, it takes quite a few moments to sit with the 134 minutes you just witnessed. Sure, the seat you have been sitting in for the last two-plus hours has been uncomfortable, and yes, maybe you are ready to go home to the warmth and camaraderie that the holidays brings, but there is something about this film, a quality that can't fully be explained, that will make it nearly impossible to stop thinking about the mess that this movie really is. And when I say mess, I mean it in the best way possible. Because there's a reason Uncut Gems will transcend time as one of the best, and most unique, films that the world of cinema has ever seen. And it's because of more than Adam Sandler's powerhouse performance.
The film tells the story of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a jeweler operating all throughout the chaos of Manhattan's Diamond District, where everyone seems to know who he is, and what his business entails. As we journey along in this chaotic and at often times uncomfortable world that Howard lives in, we follow his avid bets, interesting decisions, and various dealings that shoot him into the world of high-stakes gambling and danger all around, The film is chaotic and loud - a direct mirror of the life Howard lives, where he has to balance his business, his wife, his mistress, and the various people and events he meets and goes to within his career path. Uncut Gems is more than a movie, it is an experience. By following Ratner and his delirious decisions, viewers get a first-hand seat to the New York based chaos that instantly erupts, and affects many lives, along the way to destruction.
You can't even begin to talk about Uncut Gems without diving deep into Adam Sandler's intense and amazing performance as Howard Ratner. By the time the movie ends, it becomes nearly impossible to separate the two from each other. Ratner is a crazy person on paper, but Sandler gives this character all the life in the world, supplying the energy and panache that the story needs to function properly. Josh and Benny Sadfie do an excellent job sitting in the director's chair(s), as they do a beautiful job at crafting this world that everyone knows exists, but that many are afraid to dive deep into. They give the film, through its script, a sense of urgency, and the audience always knows the stakes, no matter how crazy they may seem. The film is excellent at sending every single person into an anxiety-induced state, where every one of Howard's bad decisions lead to a steady increase in heart rate. At almost every scene in the movie, you almost want to yell out at Howard to stop doing the things that he's doing, because they are so obviously destructive to both him and the people around him. But that is the beauty of the script, written by Ronald Bronstein, Josh Sadfie, and Benny Sadfie. The writing is so razor sharp, and so detailed, that every moment feels so important, and completely necessary to elevate the viewing experience. Through words, the trio has truly brought this story to life, setting the stage for the impressive cast, led by a radical Adam Sandler, to truly shine.
During the film, you can hardly find a moment where there is only one person talking, and even less frequent, a moment where there is pure silence, pure solace. At any given time, the viewer is either getting bombarded with at least three people yelling at each other, loud music blaring, or the hubbub of the sound of New York City's traffic blaring. And there's something insanely spectacular about that. Uncut Gems is a film that knows exactly what it wants from the people watching it, and what it wants to give to its audience. It wants to show a world that not many know about, and that even fewer take part in. And on top of that, it wants to show the chaos in that world, and how quickly everything can transcend into madness. Perhaps most importantly, it wants to provide a unique experience that will resonate in the audience's mind long after the end credits start rolling. See Uncut Gems, and experience the world of Howard Ratner firsthand. Because trust me, you won't regret it.