Movie #24 2020: Uncut Gems (2019)

Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner

I’m going to be honest here: I only watched this because I’d already read the most amazing reviews from the lucky American people who got to see this before it was released on UK Netflix. All I can say is, those glowing reviews were thoroughly deserved.

Immediately after watching this I was so gobsmacked that I couldn’t put my reaction into words about Uncut Gems, so I’ll have to try my best almost one month on.

Many, many film critics start reviews with a synopsis of the movie in question, but I just don’t understand the point in doing that. Why bother writing a summary when you can just Google it? Let’s face it, that’s what the majority of you do. What I’d rather do – especially for movies like this one – is remain mostly spoiler-free and just tell you my opinion.

With Uncut Gems, the Safdie Brothers prove their legitimacy as filmmakers. Written in collaboration with Ronald Bronstein, the Safdies have created an original story here, based on the ideas of deceit and misfortune. What the world needs more of are truly original stories in a climate saturated by reboots and book adaptations, and this is a perfect example of why.

Adam Sandler‘s performance as Howard Ratner is so far removed from what we’re used to from him that it’s impossible not to praise him for it. After watching, I was so pissed off by the Academy’s snub of Sandler that I would happily argue with anyone that he could have easily replaced Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) or Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) in the Best Lead Actor category. Of course, both of these actors are excellent, but this performance was something else. What Sandler manages to do is play a character who is so hateable yet so likeable. He is a dude who makes one poor decision after another, but you still root for him throughout the movie’s run time.

The tonal shift during the second half of Uncut is also worth noting. The intensity of the last hour in particular had me clenching my butt cheeks the entire time. You could almost categorise this as a thriller, and it definitely provides edge-of-your-seat action.

And that ending? So unexpected. In hindsight, I realise it’s the only way this movie could have concluded. But it was still so shocking and profound that I’m still thinking about it a month later.

TQR Category Ratings:

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