Uncut Gems review
I live near an Indian casino in California where it remains a top draw of the town, even on weekdays. There's something to be said for those who frequent casinos and gamble away on slot machines and cards. These are the people that want to strike it rich. That's no different then a lot of people, but the difference here is that these gambling addicts consistently either have a slow method that's effective or go with an "all in" method that’s more dangerous. This is why I'm not much of a gambler; I would hate to go in at a high risk and lose everything.
Today's movie focuses on a character who has such a gambling addiction, that it's taken over his personality and put himself in danger several times. These are the kind of guys that defend to the death that there is such a thing as luck and that certain mythical elements can change it. It could be a lucky rock or even a lucky pair of underwear, but it's all on the faith that everything will come out good. You could even call it another form of religion. That’s certainly what I got out of Uncut Gems.
In 2012, a scuzzy jeweler Howard (played by Adam Sandler) is at a crossroads as he tries to maintain his business, deal with his impending divorce from his wife Dinah (played by Idina Menzel), and pay off a huge $100,000 gambling debt he owes to a loan shark who also happens to be his brother-in-law. His luck might be finally changing as he receives a long awaited rock with diamonds from the black market of Ethiopia which he's relying on a large payout as he thinks it's worth over a million. But he also tries to maintain his relationships with his clients even if they don't see him in the same light.
One day, a basketball player Kevin Garnett visits Howards store and is mystified by the stone. Garnett insists on holding onto the rock temporarily while buying a large amount of jewelry. Howard takes this as a sign of good luck, agrees, and bets a large sum of money on it. Not only does the deal fall through later on, but the rock isn't returned after the game. This put's Howard on a lot of pressure as his life is on the rock's line and is willing to go through even scummier people to get it back.
If there's anything I can say about Uncut Gems, is that it's a really intense thriller I wouldn't have expected Adam Sandler a part of. Having seem him act well in Reign on Me, Funny People, and even Happy Gilmore, I had always hoped that Adam Sandler would find the right project to be a part of and this seems to be it. What works with Sandler is that he isn't the traditional Hollywood actor with the good looks. He's always been a draw because he's had more of a goofy everyman look that makes his character more desperate looking which ironically makes him the perfect actor to portray this character. Kudos to the production company for having confidence in this casting choice.
Adding on to the great casting is a story about a desperate person who only digs their own grave deeper and deeper. From the start of the movie, you get a sense that this character is going make mistakes and only make worse ones. Part of it is driven by other characters, but much of it is on the flaws of Howard. In a way, you see why you might like this guy if you met up with him at a bar, but your also would never be sure to be on his side or even trust him.
This movie was written and directed by the Safdie brothers who seem to have a passion for those really grainy grindhouse movies of the seventies. Uncut Gems has a similar look and tone that surrounds the movie is great atmosphere. New York, even modern New York can still look ugly from another perspective and this movie new how to capture that city's side.
I'll give this five uncut gem rocks out of five. It may not be a pleasant movie to see, but it’s one that’s bound to keep you engaged the entire time as you'll be curious to see where everything is going to lead. Its definitely a favorite of 2019 (shame on the academy Awards for not giving this one more credit). Come for a tense ride and stay for an interesting character study on gambling.