Uncut Gems – A History in Time
This is Adam Sandler like you have never seen him before. You will most likely never see him like this again. Uncut Gems is said to have been conceived in 2009, but Sandler’s refusal to star in the movie delayed production. The movie finally premiered last year at TIFF, released in the USA and is internationally distributed by Netflix, which is how I viewed it. Turbulent past right? Not as turbulent as the contents of this high-wire balancing act of a motion picture.
Is it that brutal?
This is the movie which, thanks to Sandler’s stardom, introduces the world to the two anxiety-inducing film-makers – Josh and Benny Safdie. After watching Gems uninterrupted for close to two hours and fifteen minutes, it was at the very end that I realized the death grip I had on my pillow.
But what is it about anyway, Uncut Gems? Jewish jeweler with a gambling addiction, dodging loan-sharks and trying to score big? That’s Benecio Del Toro’s plotline from Snatch, minus the hilarity and the four fingers. In many ways, Uncut Gems takes a lot of inspiration from the grainy-photographed pictures from Guy Ritchie’s filmography and dials up the thriller factor to eleven. Gems is an immersive, fast-paced, fast-talked crime flick, where everyone speaks over everyone else. You will not have a problem following the plot-line, as the direction will slow-zoom on a character’s face from time-to-time, as they do some quick thinking that will get them out of the mess they’re in. Which is mostly Sandler, in this movie’s case.
Uncut Gems – Is it that good?
The movie is tense, no doubt about it, but it is no Whiplash. It starts promising, dropping you without warning in the day-to-day life of the Diamond-district jeweler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a debt-ridden, fast-talking charmer who’s waiting to score big with a series of high stakes bets on NBA games, and waiting for an uncut opal from the Webo mines. As the story-line progresses, we realize just how much in trouble Sandler is. The funny thing is, it’s mostly just him owing money to his family members, which in theory shouldn’t be conceived as that big of an issue, but from the movie’s perspective, is. The Safdie brothers will make sure you comprehend why that is.
Does Uncut Gems have drawbacks?
Not everything is a high-wire act as the middle of the movie deals with Howard and his family issues. It involves his mistress, his wife, and their privileged and somewhat sheltered kids. This is part where, in a typical movie, you lose all interest and use it as background noise. You don’t here, as Sandler, who is at the center of it all, balances notoriety with begging-for-his-life grovelling effortlessly. I daresay, this is a role tailor-made for him. This is Sandler, venturing out of his territory and silencing his naysayers, before he goes back to doing what he does best – which is not this. But you’re happy that he’s here.
Casting-against-type – Always works
Ironically, the guy with a net worth of around four hundred and twenty million dollars, and four more Netflix movies in the pipeline looks like the underdog this awards season. It feels like a denial of entry for the sins of your past, but what do I know? This diminishes none of the admiration I have for the man now.
To sum up, watch Uncut Gems, try not to have a panic attack, resume your membership, and pray to god Sandler doesn’t go through his promise. Or don’t, no need to devalue his work, he’s a good guy, wish I had a friend like him…
Rating – 4.5/5
Uncut Gems – Official Trailer