Uncut Gems

2019

Uncut Gems

Critics Consensus

Uncut Gems reaffirms the Safdies as masters of anxiety-inducing cinema -- and proves Adam Sandler remains a formidable dramatic actor when given the right material.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 283

52%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 11,686
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Movie Info

From acclaimed filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie comes an electrifying crime thriller about Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score. When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.

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Critic Reviews for Uncut Gems

All Critics (283) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (259) | Rotten (24)

Audience Reviews for Uncut Gems

  • 2d ago
    Adam Sandler reprises his real-life role as an actual actor in UNCUT GEMS, the Safdie brothers' anxiety-ridden, feel-bad crime thriller follow-up to their anxiety-ridden, feel-bad crime thriller GOOD TIME. I'm honestly amazed that they got the level of distribution they did with this film, but I can't imagine Sandler and Kevin Garnett's egos would have been satiated by a two week limited run in select theaters. This trailer played everywhere from the Frozen 2 pre-movie trailers to ESPN, and perhaps inviting general audiences to this Cassavettes riff on 70's Scorsese by way of Friedkin was destined to sour the butter in their 15 dollar popcorn buckets. For anyone who did see HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT or GOOD TIME, they know what they're in for with this story of a jewelry broker/gambling addict as he attempts several of the riskiest gambits of his life in quick succession, hoping to redeeming himself financially and in reputation. As I mentioned William Friedkin earlier, the movie starts in a not-so-subtle homage to the opening sequence of THE EXORCIST at a large scale, desert mining operation with the location font straight out of that classic horror staple. Then we get some 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY stargate visuals, and next the movie literally goes through Sandler's colon to begin our story. Yes, that is some dark comedy to say the least, but waiting and searching for the bleak humor (if you can call it that) to come is not recommended for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. This movie violently jams you in the back of a car and takes your clothes at gunpoint. This movie creepily stares at you undressing from behind a closet door. Perhaps most terrifying of all, this movie forces you to listen to The Weeknd. I can't recommend it to everybody, but it is a manic and thrilling experience paralleled only by PARASITE this year. As for Sandler's performance, it's in a different world from anything he's done since PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. He's an unsympathetic sleaze who takes advantage of everyone around him in some hell-bent compulsion to be at the center of attention while accruing as much wealth as possible (and the character he plays isn't much better *rimshot*), but for some reason you start to root for him to make it all the way through and triumph. By the third act I was mesmerized and sweating. It's a bizarre way for Sandler to reintroduce himself to serious cinema, and I imagine that it's equally jarring for the sportsball fans who showed up to see Billy Madison step in a toilet and yell incoherently at elderly people.
    Steve L Super Reviewer
  • Jan 01, 2020
    Uncut Gems is like having a panic attack. It's frantic, unpredictable, exhausting, anxious, paranoid, visceral, and I still don't know if I can say I actually enjoyed the actual movie. I can admire it and its effectiveness at putting the viewer in the world of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a middle-aged jeweler that owes money to every shady human in New York City, though I don't know if I want to step back into this mucky world of crime, losers, and lowlifes. It's 2012, and Howard has procured a rare gemstone from Ethiopia and considers this his big score, which is important considering he keeps taking on more debts to pay off the last debts to angry, violent men. Basketball star Kevin Garnett, playing himself surprisingly well, visits the shop and is obsessed with the gem and the mythic power he feels it offers him. Howard agrees to allow the NBA star to borrow the gem, and from there Uncut Gems is a nonstop descent into chaos, with creditors, auction houses, family members, mistresses, and every goon in the tri-state area colliding with Howard as he spins desperate deals, escapes, and anything he can to attain that big score. The Safdie brothers, a writing/directing pair, made a big splash with 2017's gloriously thrilling Good Time, a movie that was as brilliantly streamlined and direct as this new one is deliberately sloppy. It feels like one plot event crashing into another, with characters speaking over one another, a throbbing score constantly in your ear, and with claustrophobic camerawork and grimy lighting. You feel like you're experiencing the constant rush of anxiety of Howard, and it's very potent, but the movie can also feel repetitive. There's so much happening all the time that it can feel less like things are escalating worse than things are just still happening. There are stellar sequences, in particular the later act with an auction and pulling off an escape leading to a very complicated high-risk-high-reward bet, but the movie's sloppiness and overlapping nature also makes it feel smothering. Sandler is superb as an adrenaline junkie seeking his next fix, a self-destructive gambler who knows he can never be satisfied. With Sandler's able assist, Howard has an offbeat charm that makes you listen when you should be punching him in the nose. Without Sandler and his live-wire performance, you probably wouldn't care what happens to this mess of a man. Julia Fox plays Howard's mistress and she's a real discovery. This is her film debut and it certainly won't be her last. She's more than a pretty face and finds a screwball sweetness to her relationship with her boss, enough so that you think she may actually love Howard for real, in her own way. Uncut Gems is also shockingly unsentimental about its characters and what befalls them. You may laugh, you may gasp, but you'll be surprised one way or another. The Safdie brothers continue to solidify themselves as some of the most exciting filmmakers working in the thriller genre. I'll still prefer Good Time and a scuzzy Robert Pattinson to a scuzzy, bruised, beaten, and always-smiling Sandler, but Uncut Gems is two hours of collective adrenaline spikes. Nate's Grade: B+
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Dec 26, 2019
    Saw #UncutGems on Christmas Day. Not exactly a Christmas movie, but a heck of a performance from Adam Sandler as a jeweler in NY's Diamond District (who's a heavy better on basketball). I understand the Oscar buzz for him now. Frenetically paced, lots of yelling and cursing throughout. (You won't like it if you're offended by coarse language) But really well edited and packs a heck of a punch ****
    Joe S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2019
    ADAM'S BROKEN RIB - My Review of UNCUT GEMS (4 Stars) Life can be a messy, loud, out of control experience, and sometimes that's just what's in your head. Add the honking, incessant cacophony of New York City and you're not getting sleep anytime soon. The Safdie brothers, Benny and Josh, understand this all too well, gifting Robert Pattinson with a mesmerizing character in their previous feature, Good Time, and now getting the performance of a lifetime out of Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems, a blistering, endlessly tense, dread-filled thriller. It almost begs you to give up watching it with its non-stop wall of sound and brutal failings of its main character, Howard Ratner. Stick with it, and you may feel hideous, but no doubt impressed with its ability to find compassion for such a difficult person. Sandler's Ratner runs an appointment-only jewelry store in New York's Diamond District circa 2012. He impulsively gambles, dodges collectors, cheats on his exasperated wife, and stupidly loans out a rare Nigerian gemstone. He does all of this concurrently, roaring at anyone and everyone, bouncing around trying to put out the bonfires that make up his life. Our first image of him shows Howard at the end of his colonoscopy. We literally meet his bowels before we meet the man, suggesting we're about to know this man inside and out. The Safdies, along with their co-writer/editor Ronald Bronstein, clearly worship films like Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon and perhaps Gasper Noé's anxiety-filled productions. Uncut Gems folllows Howard relentlessly from one unfortunate circumstance after another. Always right on the verge of big payoff from a successful gamble, Howard's hubris and non-stop swearing at anybody and everybody, sabotages anything good that could ever occur. He's a louder, more toxic cousin to Ignacius Reilly from A Confederacy Of Dunces, a man so out of control he gets arrested for just standing in a mall minding his own business. Howard knows that his rare gem could fetch millions at an upcoming auction, but when his associate Demany (an excellent LaKeith Stanfield) introduces him to his celebrity client, Kevin Garnett, then a star player for the Boston Celtics, he lets Garnett borrow it because he thinks it will bring him luck at the upcoming playoffs. Guys like Howard, however, never win, and nobody knows this better than Howard himself. Sandler understands such self-loathing, never once playing Howard as a sad sack but as a man who's confidence and bravado mask a person truly hurting inside. His soon-to-be ex-wife, Dinah, a steely perfect Idina Menzel, no longer buys what Howard's selling. Neither does his teenage daughter, who can barely look up from her phone long enough to put up with his nonsense. His employee/girlfriend Julia, a star making debut for Julia Fox, will seemingly do anything for Howard, but she also has a wandering eye and a hair-trigger temper. She's fantastic, as is Eric Bogosian as a brutal loan collector whose surprising connection to Howard makes him almost as scary as his frightening henchman, played by Keith Williams Richards. Like a modern day version of 1917, the film, urgently shot by the great Darius Khondji, relentlessly follows our protagonist through his descent into hell. Daniel Lopatin's synth-heavy, retro score sounds like somebody playing Flashdance too loudly in the other room, yet it perfectly captures Howard's fantasy life. He's a man whose dreams play out better in his head than on the unforgiving streets. It all culminates in a gorgeously sustained third act, which plays out as a doomed hostage situation. Yet, it's all just a typical day for Howard, who can't even go to his daughter's school play without ending up naked in the trunk of his own car. Sandler excels here, especially in a scene where he realizes nothing ever works out for him. Sandler knows this guy with his desperate smile, his strange glasses, his pathetic come-ons and his bottomless well of rage. Sandler and the Safdies understand the male ego, the entitlement, the showy multi-tasking and the sheer loneliness of a guy who can't catch a break. I don't think I ever want to run into Howard again, but Sandler has grabbed his place in cinema history by the balls. It's unfortunate that most people will not want to embrace such a feel-bad-movie, one which would have thrived in the anti-hero 70s cinematic era, but for the brave souls who like to be shaken and stirred, they could do worse than a Safdie brothers film.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer

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