Uncut Gems (2019) Review

What is this new Adam Sandler thriller that is receiving so much attention? Let’s take a look!

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Uncut Gems is the cinematic equivalent of an anxiety attack.  Pure and simple, this is an exercise of sheer momentum and non stop intensity.  And that makes this one of my all time favorite films to be released in recent times.  Adam Sandler gives what is one of my favorite performances of the decade.  Much like the excitement of seeing Bryan Cranston as an unlikable person in Breaking Bad, watching lovable goon Sandler play such an unlikable sleaze ball is very effective. 

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Here, Sandler plays Howie Ratner, a jeweler and sleazy gambling addict.  He’s simply one of the most captivatingly unlikable characters I’ve ever seen in a film.  He’s every bit as unlikable as a Martin Scorsese lead character, like Jake LaMotta from Raging Bull (1980) or Jordan Belfort from The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013).  Watching his life completely fall apart as he’s addict to getting himself in risky gambling situations is very thrilling.  Yet you don’t feel sorry for him in the slightest since everything that happens to him is based on his own decisions.  The feel of this film heavily reminds me of Breaking Bad, as if it were condensed into a two hour film.  Primarily in the way we’re just watching this downward spiral of a man escalate further and further.  You just never know what insane situation he’ll get himself into next.  Or the amount of situations that pile up on him. 

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The Safdie Brothers go above and beyond here.  I was already a fan of Good Time (2017), their previous film, but that now feels like a build up to the brilliance of this masterwork.  It’s a film that the brothers had written ten years prior to filming it.  In fact, all of their films were building up to this one, budget wise and as far as mastering their directorial style.  It makes me beyond excited to see what these guys do next.  They do such a great job at evoking a sense of true dread and impending doom, all while retaining a sense of dark humor and high entertainment value.  The synth work for the soundtrack gives it a momentum that doesn’t give you a moment to feel calm.  It feels like a groundbreaking and original film that takes the feel of a gritty 70s crime film to an updated 2010s vibe.  If you’re a fan of anxiety inducing thrillers and downward spiral tales, this one absolutely cannot be missed!

Uncut Gems is currently in limited theaters (luckily playing at the Downtown West theater for you Knoxvillians!) It will also be coming to Netflix on January 31st!

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