Uncut Gems is an example of why casting is so damn important. There was a time when Sacha Baron Cohen was attached to the film, and after seeing the latest from the very talented Safdie brothers, had Cohen done the project, this film would have been an afterthought. Adam Sandler was the perfect person to play Howard Ratner. His performance was the ideal balance of sleaze and idealism with a sprinkling of selfishness. While Ratner is a tortured soul and at times, very sick, he wants the American dream (which for him is a wife, kids, and a side piece). Some might find the film to be uncomfortable or even find Sandler annoying in the movie, but that’s precisely the point of Uncut Gems. Audiences will find themselves pleading with Ratner to go back to his family and stop the shenanigans (the betting, the lies, the partying, and dealing with mobsters), but we are all witnesses to a middle-aged man who thought he could have it all. If anything, Uncut Gems shows how it catches up with you.
Sandler’s performance is dynamite, but let’s not ignore Idina Menzel, who is fantastic as Howard’s wife, Dinah. The chemistry these two have on screen is off the charts and made the narrative that much more convincing. The Safdie brothers certainly have crafted a storyline devoid of silver linings and at times, feels like repeated gut punches. Both the writing and Sandler’s performance were inspiring to watch but at the same time, heartbreaking. The use of handheld camera shots gave the film a more intimate feel.
Uncut Gems is undoubtedly one of the top 20 films of 2019. Sandler’s performance was near perfect and will likely lead to him being heavily considered for Best Actor nominations across the board. The film releases at the end of December, so make a note and don’t miss out on seeing Sandler’s most exceptional work.