“Uncut Gems” follows the story of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a gambling-addicted gems dealer working in New York City. Howard’s life has fallen into disarray as his mounting debts lead to continued harassment from bloodthirsty debt collectors. As if that wasn’t enough, his poor lifestyle has begun to affect his business and even his family. However, Howard plans to turn all that around when he acquires a rare uncut gem from Ethiopia. With his entire future riding on one gemstone, Howard is willing to do whatever it takes to crawl back on top, even if he has to lie and cheat to get there.
Despite its rather silent release, the Drama/Dark Comedy known as “Uncut Gems” has been met with mostly positive scores from critics. They must have been watching a completely different film, however, because the one I saw was far from positive.
I wanted to like this film. I want to be among the various critics showering it with praise. Yet, I can’t because I just didn’t enjoy it. “Uncut Gems” feels like a film that was made by talented and competent people. It was written and directed by the same individuals who made the 2017 film “Good Time,” another movie that was met with praise. The people behind the scenes had the capacity and experience to make a film, so what happened here? There are various scenes in “Uncut Gems” that I thought were leading to something, but instead go in a false direction and just end. Plus, this is one of the first movies I’ve seen that actually gave me a headache. Not because of disorienting camerawork or constant action. No, I got a headache because 75% of this movie is NONSTOP YELLING.
This is the first-ever movie that had me begging for a long moment of silence, a plea that went unanswered. I feel like the filmmakers were trying to show that they could direct a movie with so many actors saying lines in a sea of chaos. If they were attempting to emulate real-life in how chaotic it can get with so many people talking at once, they certainly achieved it. However, sometimes emulating real life isn’t always the best solution. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. By that logic, I could make a movie where a corrupt convict makes bail, gets away scot-free, and goes on to live a long and happy life. Does that emulate real life? Sadly, yes. Does that make for good storytelling? No!
Now, I’m going to be upfront and admit that I am not a huge Adam Sandler fan. I find the man to be obnoxious and a con artist of filmmaking. However, unlike other washed-up comedians that have come and gone, I do believe Adam Sandler has talent when it comes to acting. “Reign Over Me” is one of my all-time favorite 9/11 Drama movies, and Adam Sandler knocked it out of the park starring in it. And here, I believe he was a perfect choice for the role. He knows how to really hammer the emotion he wants to convey. The problem is I had trouble digesting it because the film was so busy throwing Adam Sandler into scenes of chaos.
However, I can’t call the film terrible as it feels like the filmmakers knew what they wanted the movie to be. The difference between a bad film and a failing film is the intentions and executions. I believe the filmmakers knew what they intended this film to be, and they got their envisioned execution. So, I will applaud the creators for setting out to create something and sticking with it. I just wish the end result was more positive; because even the film itself is a major downer. I’ve seen dozens of stories that were tragic and had sad endings. However, they at least left me fulfilled in knowing the sadness was justified in some manner. Actions, good or bad, had consequences. Yet it feels like “Uncut Gems” was flipping me off in the end just because it wanted to.
“Uncut Gems” is rated R for pervasive strong language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use. All I can recommend is that if you’re curious about this film, go look up the trailer and give it a view. If you’re still curious about the film, maybe give it a watch. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be more appealing for you than it was for me. Maybe you’ll see something in it that I couldn’t. Regardless, I just did not enjoy this film and regret what could’ve been something greater. Which is why the final score for “Uncut Gems” is a 5.5 out of 10.
Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. He currently serves as a Journalist and Copy Editor to the Coastal Breeze News and is working on becoming a Published Author.