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Review: Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems (2019)

Directed by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie | 135 minutes | crime, drama | Actors: Adam Sandler, Keith William Richards, Tommy Kominik, LaKeith Stanfield, Pom Klementieff, Julia Fox, Paloma Elsesser, Mike Francesa, Maksud Agadjani, Ca$h Out, Andrea Linsky, Roman Persits, Kevin Garnett

Jewish jewelry dealer Howard Ratner desperately needs money to pay off his debts. When a piece of stone containing precious opals is found in Ethiopia, Howard sees his chance. He buys the thing for next to nothing with the idea of ​​putting it up for auction for a million. Around the same time, American basketball legend Kevin Garnett graces Howard’s jewelry business in New York. And the first thing that catches Garnett’s eye is… the stone with the opals.

The above paragraph describes just the opening minutes of the dog-tiring American crime drama ‘Uncut Gems’. Missing jewels, risky bets, relationships that have collapsed or are yet to collapse, all this and much more comes together in a film that lasts just over two hours. And who knows how to entertain despite a lot of obstacles.

First the obstacles. ‘Uncut Gems’ might be too American for a European audience. We come across things we don’t really know much about here: American basketball culture and the betting that comes with it, the lending of valuables to pawnshops, the valuation process at a major auction house. It sometimes makes the film a bit exotic for Europeans.

What you as a viewer also have to be able to handle is the bloody nervous and super fast style. The whole time screaming and swearing (IMDB counted 408 fucks), everyone is talking at once, and at a pace that is hard to follow. The fantastic acting Adam Sandler is like Howard a kind of Woody Allen on speed. And when the film and Howard stop for a while, we get hyper-nervous and unpleasantly swaying synthesizer music again. It goes without saying that the film was largely shot handheld.

But still, it works. You get used to the pace and the cursing, you start to empathize with our anti-hero Howard, even though you realize he’s going to gamble every dime won just as hard. And in the end you go full sail to the beautiful ending of the film, after which you, thank God, get time to catch your breath. For those who are still in doubt: ‘Uncut Gems’ is a film by the brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, who delighted us in 2017 with the equally nervous and successful ‘Good Time’. If you enjoyed that film, ‘Uncut Gems’ should not be missed.

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