PG Score: 8/10
Uncut Gems is a relentless thrill ride. It centers on Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), an energetic jeweler in New York City. With enemies all around him and the walls closing in, he makes a string of high-risk bets in pursuit of the payout of a lifetime. Right out of the gate, this one grabs you and maintains its hold even after the credits roll.
Benny and Josh Safdie (formerly best known for their 2017 hit, Good Time) once again prove to be masters of both pacing and storytelling. It moves at breakneck speed without sacrificing any plot points or character development along the way. It’s a beautiful balance of increasing momentum at a rapid rate, while still building up the characters and seedy underworld that Howard is embroiled in. It follows him from one hellish experience to the next. It’s exciting, nerve-racking, and captivating. The Safdie brothers found their place in the crime thriller subgenre with Good Time and have since put themselves at the top of the food chain with Uncut Gems.
One of the biggest contributors to the success of the film is the phenomenal performance by Adam Sandler. This is without a doubt his best work and really exemplifies a range that I honestly didn’t think he had. Howard is a neurotic, charismatic, and truly disturbed individual who is constantly embedded in all sorts of trouble. Sandler captures his desperation and anxiety exceptionally well. His performance is powerful and unrelenting and most certainly worthy of an Oscar nomination. He fuels this movie from start to finish and I truly look forward to seeing him take similar roles in the future.
The supporting cast does a great job as well. Kevin Garnett is more than a cameo here and proves to have some serious acting chops. LaKeith Stanfield nails a strong performance as Demany and once again shows his powerful presence onscreen. The guy is fun to watch.
The writing is riddled with quick-witted jabs and clever remarks. This style is perfectly suited for the film as Howard is continually forced to fend off foes from all sides using his smarts and sheer unpredictability. The score is also worth noting. The music has a hypnotic feel that matches the onscreen chaos every step of the way. It further immerses you in the action and adds another layer to an already stellar movie. With the pacing moving at such a high clip, the script has to follow suit and it certainly delivers. Boasting an infinite supply of insanity and a hefty dose of twists, the plot will keep you guessing throughout. This is not a film to try figure out what’s going to happen next. Instead, sit back, strap on the seatbelt and enjoy every frenetic turn of this roller coaster of cinematic achievement.
It’s extremely uncommon for a film to keep its foot on the gas for the entire runtime without slipping at all. Uncut Gems is a rare gem indeed. I highly recommend it to everyone.