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 having it up for auction for a million. Around the same time, American basketball legend Kevin Garnett honors Howard’s jewelry store in New York. And the first thing that Garnett sees is… the stone with the opals.
The above paragraph describes only the first minutes of the dog-exhausting American crime drama ‘Uncut Gems’. Missing jewels, risky bets, relationships that have collapsed or have yet to collapse, all this and more features in a film that lasts just over two hours. And who knows how to entertain despite a lot of obstacles.
First those obstacles. Uncut Gems could be too American for a European audience. We come across things we don’t really know much about here: American basketball culture and the resulting betting, the lending of valuables to pawnbrokers, the appraisal process at a large auction house. It sometimes makes the film somewhat exotic for Europeans.
As a viewer you also have to be able to cope with the extremely nervous and super fast style. All the time screaming and cursing (IMDB counted 408 fucks), everyone talks together, and that at a pace that is difficult to follow. As Howard, the fantastic acting Adam Sandler is a kind of Woody Allen on speed. And when the film and Howard pause for a moment, we get hypernervous and unpleasantly swabbing 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 swearing, you start to empathize with our antihero Howard, despite realizing that he is going to gamble every dime you win just as hard. And in the end you go full sail to the beautiful end of the film, after which thank God you get time to catch your breath. For those who still have doubts: ‘Uncut Gems’ is a film by brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, who already delighted us in 2017 with the equally nervous and successful ‘Good Time’. Anyone who has enjoyed that film should certainly not miss ‘Uncut Gems’.