“Uncut Gems” is the latest release from A24 (Midsommar, Eight Grade) directed by Josh & Benny Safdie (Good Time) and is an up-and-down roller coaster driven by schemes, adultering, jewelry, and sports wagering. A serious movie centered around Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) a Diamond District jeweler in New York who runs a by appointment only shop, and who is in debt due to his addiction to sports wagering.
Looking back over the decade this is by far the standout performance of Sandler’s over the last ten years, possibly even over the course of his whole career. Years of being the on-screen comedic actor allowed him to carry out the execution of this role flawlessly in a way we never get to Sandler act: dramatically. Don’t be surprised if next month you see Sandler’s name associated with Best Actor at the Academy Awards announcement of the 2019 nominees. Yes, the performance is that good.
From there, we’re introduced to great ensemble cast in Idina Manzel (Frozen, Frozen II) who plays Howie’s wife Dinah the tension you feel in the screen time they shared you can feel the final moments of their relationship, she delivers an amazing performance with the limited amount of screen time that she receives. Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Knives Out) as Demany a ‘roaming salesman’ who brings in high profile clients to Howie’s store. Like similar roles such as ‘Sorry to Bother You’ and ‘Snowden’ he plays a cool and collected hustler trying to find a way to make money for himself. Finally we have Eric Bogosian (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) as Aron; Howie’s brother-in-law to whom he owes a low six-figures debt from sports wagering losses. Known mostly for his smaller supporting roles this one is no different, while also getting limited screen time he delivers when he’s on screen.
The two real standout performances come from newcomer Julia Fox who plays Howie’s girlfriend living in one of his apartments as well as working in his shop. She plays a big role in the poor decisions Howie makes in the film. The dark horse however; is Kevin Garnett who plays a fictional version of himself obsessed with a rare stone that belongs to Howie. The mannerisms shown in the few scenes he was in were just amazing and the chemistry between Sanlder and Garnett was absolutely amazing.
If you’ve been turned off by big budget sequels and want something raw with more of a human feel to it then “Uncut Gems” is for you. I first heard about this movie following its buzz around the Toronto International Film Festival in September and when the first trailer dropped I was immediately interested in seeing this picture. Its one of those films that seeing it in theaters is worth it as the small screen just can’t do it justice. If I had to compare this film to anything it would be a Greek tragedy, because in the end the house always wins.