The Safdie Brother’s breakout film came a few years ago with Good Time starring Robert Pattinson, a low budget crime thriller that wowed almost anyone who saw it. It also changed how many people viewed Pattinson as an actor. Now the pair are back, and are looking to achieve a similar feat with Uncut Gems.
Starring Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a New York jeweler with a gambling problem, Uncut Gems follows Howard as he attempts to auction a rare black opal in order to pay off his gambling debts. He is also attempting to hold his personal life together as his marriage with his wife Dinah dissolves and he has issues with his girlfriend Julia. Much like Good Time the film sees the lead’s life spiral further and further out of control. The Safdie Brothers inject such a level of anxiety and urgency into the film that you feel completely sucked into the story.
Obviously Adam Sandler has faced a huge amount of derision in his career, and understandably so given how many terrible comedies he’s put out. But his performance in Uncut Gems is easily his career high point. Those who saw him in Punch-Drunk Love will know that Sandler really can put in great performances in someone else’s vision, rather than in a typical “Adam Sandler film”. Whilst Howard isn’t necessarily a likeable character there is no questioning Sandler’s performance. He’s slimy and would be easy to root against if the performance wasn’t so charismatic. The rest of the principal cast are great, with Lakeith Stanfield as an associate of Howard’s and Julia Fox (In her film debut) as Howard’s girlfriend are clear standouts.
If you were a fan of the Safdie’s style in Good Time then Uncut Gems will be something you’ll love as well, although maybe not quite as much, but that is more a reflection of just how brilliant Good Time is. Uncut Gems very much has a similar tone, this is just another film that proves that the Safdie’s make some of the most exciting and gritty films of the moment.