Uncut Gems (2019).
Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie.
Writer: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie,
Cast : Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel.
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Streaming on Netflix.
Disclaimer : Parental Advisory, Intended for Mature Audiences and not suitable for Kids.
Starring Adam Sandler. Now that might have given you a flashback of mindless slapstick comedies like Jack and Jill, Pixels and similar ones. These movies have been panned heavily by critics and viewers alike which is evident by the Golden Raspberry wins and nominations Sandler movies get every year. Yes, awards cannot be used as the ultimate criterion for judging a movie’s worth but most of us are well aware of the eventuality of his movies. Enter “Uncut Gems” from Josh and Benny Safdie, the underrated brother duo who are the brains behind the critically acclaimed Robert Pattinson starrer Good Time (2017). There is only one way to put it, what we witness from Uncut Gems could be the beginning of Sandler’s reply to all his critics as he begins his redemption with a Killer performance.
Uncut Gems features Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a Jewish jeweller and gambling addict in New York City’s Diamond District, who must retrieve an expensive gem he purchased to pay off his debts. NBA fans would also be in for a treat as the movie stars the Boston Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett as himself. The Canadian singer and sensation Weeknd also plays a fictionalised and memorable version of himself, in the movie. Howard is seen to be struggling from the beginning of the movie in order to achieve the American Dream. He is neck-deep in debt, betting doesn’t pay off and the sales at his shop the KMH which is filled with smuggled goods do not exactly abate his problems. The movie induces sympathy for the character as he fails terribly while trying to attain a massive pay off. But unlike what we experience usually in cinema, Howard is not a perfect man trying to make ends meet. His greed propels him to gamble continuously even when he has enough. Additionally, he has marital issues with his estranged wife played by Idina Menzel, the voice behind the hit number ‘Let it Go’, there is also a girlfriend that works in his shop. This lack of righteousness puts the viewer in a dilemma where we are dubious as to feel for him or let him suffer.
The movie can come under a genre of Thriller but is a psychological one infused with dark comedy rather than an investigative one. There are only a few elements of entertainment for a casual movie viewer as this not a run of the mill thriller, so don’t let that tag confuse you. But it still stays loyal to the genre as it is filled with anxiety generating moments which makes the viewer want to believe that finally, Howard will reach that light at the end of the tunnel. There are some scenes and parts where a lot of importance is given to emotions than actions. If you are comfortable with that, then don’t miss this one.
The biggest positive of the movie is the career-best performance of Adam Sandler, itself. Even though the rest of the actors have done a commendable job, it is Sandler who single-handedly steals the show at the end. It is the perfect reply for anyone who has mocked him for his earlier performances and choices of films. He proves that with a good script he can work wonders, and as the name suggests this one is a ‘gem’ so cinephiles better get a hold of this one .
Verdict: 6/7 Stars.
Trivia: In other news, Uncut Gems had come seventh in a list of movies that most use the F-word as of January 2020. The critically-acclaimed thriller had featured in the Top 10 with 408 mentions, which equates to three per minute.