Mini Movie Review: Adam Sandler shines in Uncut Gems (2019)
The first thing that stands out about Uncut Gems is Adam Sandler’s genuinely solid performance in a non-typical role. Sandler plays as Howard Ratner, a New York jeweler who weaves a tangled web of high stakes risk and frantic desperation when scrambling to pay off a gambling debt. Sandler brings a sense of amusement and authenticity to heightened moments in Uncut Gems. The tightly written script is very good at capturing how Ratner’s business, family and personal life collide and unravel before his eyes. Despite his poor decision making, the well-rounded character driven story and performance makes you want to see Ranter succeed.
The less talked about aspect that makes Uncut Gems work is Kevin Garnett, an NBA basketball star, playing himself as a customer interested in a highly valued opal. Garnett believes that the opal is a powerful good luck charm. There’s an understated humor in the scenes between Garnett and Ratner that is super entertaining. Writers and directors the Safdie Brothers wisely use Garnett much more than a cameo, rather he’s integral to the movie. Uncut Gems finds the right tonal balance to make all of the story elements fit together pretty seamlessly.
Another perspective on Uncut Gems is how we figuratively place our bets on people in our life. It’s like which basketball player do you want to have the ball to hit the buzzer beater before the clock expires? Ratner has an unshakable belief in Garnett’s ability and Julia (Julia Fox), Ratner’s girlfriend and employee, put her chips on him. By the time we meet Ratner’s estranged wife (Idina Menzel) and kids, they feel like the least vital part of his life. Ratner is most alive when thriving on risk. Even if you are not a Sandler fan, Uncut Gems is a recommended drama which delivers the emotional high and lows of what a gambler looking for the next win goes through.