“Uncut Gems” was directed & co-written by Josh & Benny Safdie who have directing credits on short & foreign films but are virtually unknown. Along with the Safdies’ is their frequent collaborator, Ronald Bronstein, who co-wrote this film as well as some their other films. The film stars Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield Julia Fox, Eric Bogosian & Kevin Garnett. This was Sandler’s first film since 1998 that was not through his own production company, Happy Madison.
Howard Ratner is a Jewish jeweler in New York City in 2012 who is struggling to paying off his debts while still making large bets on NBA games. Howard lives a somewhat double life. One in the big fancy house with his wife, Dinah (Menzel) & their 3 children, while the other is in a condo apartment in the city with his “girlfriend” Julia (Fox) who also happens to work at Howard’s Jewelry Shop, KMH. One of Howard’s biggest clients is young man named Demany (Stanfield) who has bought many rappers & musicans to Howard’s shop. Names like Trinidad James, Ca$h Out and even upcoming star The Weeknd all meet Howard about new jewels. But Demany brings a big name in the form of NBA Superstar, Kevin Garnett (playing himself) who is looking for new “ice”. Howard shows Kevin this new rare Ethiopian gem that was found in a Welo mine in Africa. Mesmerized by this gem, Kevin wants to take it but Howard, being the paranoid Jew that he his denies him. However, the come to an agreement. Howard will lend Kevin the gem for 24 hours, if Kevin leaves his 2008 NBA Championship ring with him at the shop. After this moment, Howard experiences the worse coming days of his life as things go from bad to worse as each day progress. Loan sharks, false appraisals, cheating, family threats, severe gambling and everything in between send Hoard’s life into a deadly tailspin which only cause by his own ego, paranoia & living by the wire lifestyle.
This was a fantastic movie & the surprise hit of 2019. Adam Sandler’s performance here is without a doubt his best one yet. Even though he’s known for his comedies, he has ventured into dramatic territory with films like “Reign On Me”, “Spanglish”, “Punch Drunk Love” & “Funny People”. But those performances pale in comparison to this one. He really owns this role and plays with a bit his own flavor while still bring this character justice. He does bring some of comedic moments but they’re great and not far in between. Julia Fox is also great in this film. This being really her first film ever, she didn’t bad at all. Even NBA star Kevin Garnett turns in a solid performance. Lakeith Standfield also gives a great performance but then again this has been so good & show his wide range in everything I’ve seen him in, at this point, it’s almost a given seeing in a film and give a great performance. The acting was great, the story was a bit cliche but it still keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time.
Overall, this was fantastic movie all the way around. Adam Sandler has definitely rebounded after a slew of horrible films, both on the big screen & on Netflix. I can only hope that he continues to push quality performances like this one & also should be considered for a major award. The Oscars might be a long stretch but Golden Globe, Screen Actor’s Guild or even Critics’ Choice. Not mention everyone’s else performance is top notch.