9.5 / 10
Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner
Kevin Garnett as Kevin Garnett
Judd Hirsch as Gooey
Julia Fox as Julia
Lakeith Stanfield as Demany
Eric Bogosian as Arno
Idina Menzel as Dinah
Directed by Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie and co-written by Benny Safdie, Joshi Safdie and Ronald Bronstein
Directors Josh and Benny Safdie, known for their impulsive frantic assault thriller Good Time, would not seem like the natural choice to work with Adam Sandler on his Netflix series, but if you were expecting something vibrant and different from Sandler, it's the reunion. Special talent and material you want. Following Howard Ratman (Sandler), a shrewd, fast-talking jeweler from New York, Uncut Gems also presents himself as a crime thriller and anxiety-inducing slice of life, featuring Sandler's magnetic performance.
Like Howard, Sandler's charisma is not soft or clean – it's dirty, colorful and full of ambition. Seeing the world through Howard's eyes is at first as shocking as the accompanying intrusive sound design. As he begins his day, Howard walks past stalls and stores in New York's Diamond District, and customer and supplier dialogue overlaps, though everyone is just listening to the other party's bravado and complaints, especially Howard's. His bookmaker is committed enough to make his bets, but Howard Arno's frustrated agiot (Eric Bogosian) and his two hired muscles quickly lose patience when Howard's renewed promises to pay seem at least the fifth version of the conversation. In those first few minutes, the chaos of Howard's day is accompanied by Daniel Lopatin's heavy synth score, which initially overloads and remains a hypnotic barometer, reflecting the pressure around Howard, the darkness that haunts him, and an almost cosmic connection to something. bigger.
He's making bets, putting off loans, pledging pieces he has just borrowed – Howard's stressful life of disorder exists in a fragile shell of stability ready to break. The unbalanced balance is first disturbed by the arrival in his store of an incredibly valuable black opal from Ethiopia and then by captivating snapshot Kevin Garnett, throwing himself. Howard can't help but point out his impressive discovery and talks about the possible value of a million dollars in opal, and we see in Garnett the emotional effect that such a rare object can have on a buyer (with enough money to keep up with the passion). As an actor, Garnett enters anarchic dialogue as smoothly as Sandler and Lakeith Stanfield, playing a broker who brings Garnett's rich tastes to Howard's store. The tension in the room when Garnett, despising his celebrity, borrows the opal already spoken for luck at his basketball game that night typifies the transactional nature of these relationships, which holds these people who otherwise would not be able to be together in the evening. same room. Howard's constant exaggerations, half-truths, and dodging test patience, but the chance to buy something beautiful or make money from a sale brings them together peacefully.
This is not enough for everyone in Howard's life – it is clear from the doubt in their eyes and the way they prepare, ready to repel his offensive charm, that his business contacts, employees and family members know who he is. The people in Howard's orbit who chose to stay there exist at various stages in a tumultuous cycle of skepticism, attraction, tolerance, disillusionment, and finally resentment at its illusory magic and broken promises, with diminishing returns to those closest to them. him. trust him more. His father Gooey (Judd Hirsch) is reluctant when Howard approaches him on Passover about participating in his latest scheme, but despite having little in common with his son's turbulent lifestyle, Gooey has also seen his son walk among the children. Very lucky rain drops. rain from time to time aside. Hirsch interprets that under the wear and frayed edges of the years with Howard, there is a genuine belief in his son's abilities.
It is telling that Gooey agrees with the scheme, finally, when Howard assures him that none of his father's money would be at stake, a detail that explains how all of Howard's relationships were distorted by his obsession with his next play. Howard's wife, Dinah (Idina Menzel), is even less willing to tolerate his games, staying with him for the sake of her children, but moving away from divorce. Managing Howard's selfish, erratic impulses while trying to give his children the appearance of stability has long drained Dinah's attraction to him, and Menzel cuts Dinah's exhaustion with laid-back fun. While Howard takes a savage blow desperately that they give the marriage another chance, Menzel's intently cold stare and forced composure may be confused with conviction about to crumble, but Dinah is now merely amused by what she couldn't see before. . A tap dance like Howard's might be thrilled if it didn't cost so much, and watching this performance up close for so long showed her how empty it is, probably even better than Howard can see.
Sandler shows a brilliance he has not addressed for years when a scene to represent the demands of different parties trying to hold Howard accountable – Arno's henchmen, Howard's family, the auction house awaiting the black opal – force him into a sweaty act of barbed wire. he follows instinct alone. He spins from lie to lie, his priorities confusing to us and apparently to himself. Howard chooses to take increasing risks that turn clear gains into all but certain losses in the hope that they will be rewarded with gigantic victories. In a rare moment of silence after suffering a significant loss, Howard dares to reflect on himself, and Sandler is ashamed of shame and deep insecurity, like a child shown for the first time that his actions can have negative consequences.
Howard knows he's hurting himself and the people around him, but he also loves the thrill of uncertainty and lives on it. He has, of course, found a way to put even more pressure on his marriage and business by dating his employee Julia (Julia Fox), but unlike Dinah, she sees the unpredictability tornado and walks toward him. For Howard, there is no loss he can endure that is so permanent that he cannot turn it into another opportunity, and to be fair, seeing Howard operate with complete self-confidence, no matter how many times he has failed, can be hilarious and mesmerizing. , for Julia and for us. Sandler plays Howard's abject failures, one of which leaves him naked in the trunk of his own car, with complete impasse and no sense of his own ridicule. These moments and their series of lies exhaust Dinah and Arno, but Julia and Garnett, with much less to lose and inspired by the fascination of the possibility that leads Howard, find something believable and magical in their words.
As his bets fail, Howard takes more shocking risks, and Uncut Gems further increases the pressure already present. The Safdies flourish in this tense space, but as they tirelessly explore the conflicts that a constant player like Howard faces when battling the harsh realities of the world, they also manage to push those realities away and pursue something larger and ineffable. Howard believes that his world, dangerous as it may be, will always offer opportunities for him to live in the moment of growing chaos, and there he will do what he does best – and for him, unbelievably, the world conforms. Like Howard, Sandler fully embodies this faulty mentality and all its consequences, evoking Howard's experience of the outer material world and, most crucially, the inner spiritual universe.
Uncut Gems is now open in select theaters and will open on December 25!