“Uncut Gems” is one of those films that grabbed my attention with its oddball trailer. It gave no sense to what the story was about or what to expect from Adam Sandler.
The movie gives audiences a look at a complex man who is not honest with the people around him or with himself.
“Uncut Gems” tells the story of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) who is a jeweler in New York City. Ratner has two passions that drive his life into a whirlwind of chaos. One is diamonds and gem stones – and the other is basketball. Over time, the love of basketball has driven him to be a compulsive gambler. He bets on everything from who wins the opening tip-off to which player will have the most rebounds in the game.
This compulsion has caused Ratner to make bets all over the city losing thousands of dollars at a time. He works to keep everything in his life balanced but continues to fail as he strives for that huge win that will solve all of his problems and give him a clean slate.
Over the years, Sandler has stepped out of his comfort zone of comedy, which has resulted in some great films like “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Reign Over Me” and “The Cobbler.” These films have shown he can be more than just a funny guy on screen.
Sandler uses a lot of depth and emotion to show what his character is facing and that comes through clearly in “Uncut Gems.” As Ratner, Sandler shows how the character’s worst enemy is himself and how his greed and lust for wanting the next best thing are his ultimate undoing. Ratner is not happy with the success he has and is always looking over the fence to see what somebody else has and then attempts to take it.
Sandler does a great job of showing this self-defeating attitude as life and thugs continue to beat down on Ratner. You want to root for Ratner to be successful but, at the same time, you want to smack him upside the back of the head and say, “What are you thinking, dummy?”
“Uncut Gems” is not a film for everyone. At times, the pacing of the film moves with the speed of a slug and much could have been remedied by trimming the fat out. The audience has a clear understanding that Ratner is a sleazy guy who cheats on his wife and uses jewelry under his care to make bets. Some of the scenes are redundant and needed to be left on the cutting room floor.
One observation I made is how theater operators are treating this movie. They seem to have reacted with trepidation and are giving the film limited showtimes and placing it in small auditoriums near the back of the cinema. Honestly, I don’t blame them. “Uncut Gems” is a movie that feels like a personal project or an art piece made to fulfill the desire of one person. When you have better films that are currently out, like “Dark Waters” or “A Hidden Life,” then the choice is obvious, go see the better films because “Uncut Gems” can wait.
I give “Uncut Gems” seven out of 10 stars. It is rated R for pervasive strong language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use. The film runs for 135 minutes.
For more information about the movie, go to its website at www.a24films.com/films/uncut-gems.