Saturday, December 28, 2019

Uncut Gems (2019) Review

Directed by
Bennie Safdie & Josh Safdie

Uncut Gems is mesmerizing, torturous, thrilling, painful, and haunting, yet it is impossible to look away.

Written and directed by the Safdie brothers, Uncut Gems tells the story of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a high-end jewelry dealer and a compulsive gambler that is always looking for the next big score while those that he owes money to are constantly looking for him.  Howard's life is lived in extremes, with highs like showing off his best jewels to NBA star Kevin Garnett, partying with The Weeknd, and hitting on five-figure bets, but also lows like getting locked in his trunk naked and his kid discovering he is cheating on his mom.  Everything that happens to Howard is self-inflicted, which makes the highs that much more thrilling and the lows that much more tragic.

There are so many things I love about this movie.  First, the story.  This is my first experience with the Safdie brothers, but I heard universal praise about Good Time a couple years ago.  They are able to design this story in a way that slowly but surely sucks you in until you can't look away.  Second, Adam Sandler.  This is by far the best I have ever seen him.  He is perfect at portraying Howard's charm and demons all at the same time.  He is irresistible throughout the film.  The supporting performances around Sandler compliment extremely well.  Kevin Garnett shows that he has some acting chops, even if he is just playing himself.  LaKeith Stanfield is awesome in everything.  The two women in Howard's life, his wife (Idina Menzel) and his girlfriend (Julia Fox), are also outstanding.  It is refreshing to see Menzel in something dark and hard like this.  She shows that she is a very talented actress and so much more than a Disney princess.  Fox also gives a stellar performance in her first feature film.  I have a feeling we will be hearing much more from her in the next decade.

This is one of those films I haven't been able to stop thinking about since I watched it.  It is one I won't be able to shake for awhile.  It is like the horrific sports injury that makes you cringe but you also can't look away.  There are so many things I can say about this movie, but it is just a film you have to experience.  So the only other thing I will say is GO SEE IT!!!

4 stars

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