Uncut Gems, the chaotic, flamboyant, pulpy and gleefully garish offering from the Safdie brothers, is as much an anxiety-inducing thriller as a nihilistic character drama. But what made it really compelling viscerally was in the way it played out like a ticking time bomb, reaching ever closer to an explosion or at least an implosion as the narrative progressed. Adam Sandler gave a blazing performance – reminiscent of exceptions like Punch Drunk Love and The Meyerovitz Stories in a career otherwise dominated by lackluster mediocrity – as Howard Ratner, a fidgety, obscenely profligate and doomed hustler who literally lives his life on the edge. He owns a high-end jewelry story in New York’s Diamond District, and lives his life with reckless abandon, alternating between his sprawling house where he resides with his wife (Idina Menzel) with whom his marriage is on the rocks and a chic apartment he maintains for his attractive girlfriend Julia (Julia Fox). He’s also an incorrigible gambling addict regularly pawning others’ belongings in order to juggle between high-stake basketball bets and managing his mounting debts, and is precariously hanging in balance with his loan-shark brother-in-law Arno (Eric Bogosian) and his brutal henchmen; he’s in fact made so many bad choices that he’s already pushed to his last dime and is perhaps one last mistake away from annihilation, and hence must do high-wire act if he hopes to come out of this alive. His final window is a smuggled black opal which has charmed NBA star Kevin Garnett (playing himself) and which could, potentially, earn big money at the auction. The film’s edgy tone was brilliantly backed by the unapologetically over-the-top characterizations, frenetic narrative and deftly light synth-score.
Director: Josh & Benny Safdie
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller