You are your own worst enemy. “Uncut Gems” the latest Safdie Brothers’ film, expertly brings this statement to cinematic life, unleashing the gates of urbanized pressure. It’s a prime example of cautionary storytelling, pointing out the flaws of humanity and showcasing the ways in which mistakes can snowball. In simplistic terms, it’s a product of pure exceptionality, destined to become a rewatchable narrative.
If “Good Time” was a lean exercise in suspense, “Uncut Gems” is an ongoing panic attack. It handcuffs us to an immoral man, made up of selfishness and unreliability. At every point, Adam Sandler connects himself to this idiotic soul, unearthing the misguided opportunism that comes with gambling addiction. And as time wears on, Sandler (one of our most cherished comedians) becomes the walking representation of hypocrisy and miscalculation, lighting up the screen with his sly charm, rambling desperation, and erratic behavior.
A ton of credit must be given to the Safdie Brothers, two of the finest filmmakers working today. To coincide with Sandler’s Mona Lisa, they have crafted a film of dysfunctional proportions. At all times, there is overlapping dialogue, which generates an abundance of interpersonal chaos. Daniel Lopatin’s twitchy, dream-like score is a wonderful addition to the narrative proceedings, representing high forms of euphoria and anxiety.
“Uncut Gems” does a nice job of utilizing inclusion within the supporting role landscape. Granted, these roles aren’t massive, but they are key to the plot. Lakeith Stanfield, an African American performer, plays a diamond district associate firmly connected to Sandler. As the film’s plot intensifies, Stanfield is given the opportunity to butt beads with Sandler, and in turn, this urban community feels all the more toxic. In time, it’s evident that an epic tragedy is transforming.
The female performers are also given a chance to shine. Julia Fox expertly portrays a bouncy, supportive girlfriend, representing the ways in which people settle when it comes to relationships. Idina Menzel thrives at playing a sassy partner, and eventually, her cinematic frustration parallels the real-life struggles that betrayed wives face.
Some viewers may consider these female roles to be simplified and stylized to a fault. But overall, these females are naturally fitted into the narrative. And as time progresses, they reveal deeper personal aspects regarding Sandler’s character. Even though the flick has a male lead at its center, it unflinchingly showcases the toxic nature of male appetites.
In closing, “Uncut Gems” is one of the best films of 2019. If you pass up the opportunity of seeing it on the big screen, you will be missing out. I’ve seen it three times in theaters already. And honestly, I’ll be seeing it a fourth time. It’s that good.
Incluvie score: 4
General score: 3
Originally published by Dillon McCarty for Incluvie on February 8, 2020