New York City jeweler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is always looking for the next big score and always pushing his luck to find it. When he comes across a “sure thing,” it puts him at odds with friends and enemies alike.
It has been a long time since I have seen a new Adam Sandler movie. I’m talking like 2011’s Jack and Jill and 2008’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan before that. I’ve even missed Pixels, which my aunt has assured me I would enjoy given the amount of video games I play. But Uncut Gems piqued my interest because it looked like a different kind of Sandler movie. Even by my own admission I haven’t seen many of his movies outside of his early popular hits to compare to, but his role in Uncut Gems is unlike I have ever seen from him and might just be his best performance.
Sandler is absolutely brilliant as Howard Ratner, a shifty jeweler in New York City. Sandler is mostly known as a comedic actor but his role as Howard shows that he can branch out to other types of roles if he puts his mind to it. Howard is not a good person and is involved in shady dealings. Sandler bring a schizophrenic element to the part and makes it seem natural. The further I got into the film, the less and less I believed the person on screen was Sandler and not some doppelganger. Compared to other roles in his filmography, he is unrecognizable. After watching him in this film, I would like to see Sandler take on more dramatic roles such as this.
As I said before, Howard is not a good person, you might even call him a downright awful person. Usually a main character of a film has some sort of redeeming quality so the audience can connect and root for them. Not Howard. This disconnect from the audience actually works towards another purpose. Since he is such a terrible individual, I continuously expected something terrible to happen to him. This is where I found the suspense of the film to come from. I was constantly wondering when something will go wrong for Howard. Once this thought took hold, I was glued to the screen, always expecting the worse to happen in every scene.
The cinematography was expertly used to elevate the tension as well. Tight angles and small, crowded spaces were often used to create a sense of claustrophobia, making the audience more uneasy being up close and personal with such despicable people. Kudos to the Safdie brothers and cinematographer Darius Khondji for creating an uncomfortable feeling using just the camera.
If I had one complaint about the film it would be that it is a bit too long. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, it does drag on a points. If one or two subplots would have been cut to shave the run time down by 20 or 30 minutes, I think this film would have found that sweet spot.
I thought Uncut Gems was GREAT 😀 Adam Sandler completely transforms himself in what is probably his most dramatic role to date. I found myself on edge expecting the worst to happen. While it was just a smidge too long, Uncut Gems is unrelenting and extremely raw, dragging you into Howard’s seedy world and never letting go.
Cast & Crew
Benny Safdie – Director / Writer
Josh Safdie – Director / Writer
Ronald Bronstein – Writer
Daniel Lopatin – Composer
Adan Sandler – Howard Ratner
Julia Fox – Julia
Idina Menzel – Dinah Ratner
Lakeith Stanfield – Demany
Kevin Garnett – Himself
Eric Bogosian – Arno
Keith Williams Richards – Phil
Mike Francesa – Gary
Judd Hirsch – Gooey
Noa Fisher – Marcel Ratner
Jonathan Aranbayev – Eddie Ratner
Jacob Idielski – Beni Ratner
On Monday, the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon was announced! If you would like to participate, all the details can be found in this announcement post.
Terrific review….I agree the film should have lost 15-20 minutes. Sandler was great, just wish they had given him a bit of a breather at times as his “always at 100” acting got a bit grating. And I will also say its one of the most off-putting opening shots of all time!
Thanks! That’s a good point. But I think that I liked he was always on; it created a sense of uneasiness that helped with the tension. Yea, that opening was not something I expected. 😂
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You are right about that “uneasiness” – which makes sense because he’s not a character who “has it made” – he fights for EVERYTHING!
Please give Greg a Get Well shoutout Drew 💛
Great review! I agree too that shaving the film to 2 hours would have made it an even more intense and stressful experience! I mean, do we really need to see Howard putting out the bins 🙂
Thanks! Exactly! Little things like that could be chopped out. The film doesn’t need to lose much but dropping just those few extra minutes would have made a big difference.
Thank you for commenting, Paul. 🙂
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