Uncut Gems (Spoilers after the OP)

Saw this last night. Man was it intense. A really well made movie albeit a little long. It stars Adam Sandler but it is not a comedy (although the audience I saw it with laughed uncomfortably in a few places) and it shows a few days in the life of a Jewish Gem broker in the NYC diamond district as he navigates making a big score in his business and managing a huge gambling problem. The movie does a great job at making you feel just how pressure filled this guy’s life is from the minute it starts until it ends.

It has a very divisive soundtrack which sounds very 70s sci fi. I loved it, the people I saw it with hated it.

Also, I felt the ending was a little predicable once the story got to a certain point (being vague for spoiler reasons) but my wife and friends didn’t feel it was predicable but, still, to me it didn’t matter, I still liked the movie anyway.

I would recommend it if you like character studies of really flawed people. If you like Happy Madison and its ilk, it is not that kind of movie.

“Intense” is a good word for it. If you liked this movie, you might want to check out the Safdie Brothers’ other stuff, especially Good Time. It has a similar feel of unrelenting anxiety and the score is by the same people (Oneohtrix Point Never)

I didn’t predict that specific ending, but I knew it couldn’t possibly end happily. I thought both his mistress and associate(?) were conning him somehow, and the ending would be some big reveal of that.

Turns out that they were both generally honest with him, and just seemed fishy because they’re fishy people. Everyone in that world was.

This movie made me angry that Sandler is so devoted to that… stuff is he considers comedy. He’s a very, very good dramatic actor.

I found the film quite frustrating, because while I hate the argument that “the main character wasn’t likable” as a lazy one, my problem was that not only was Sandler’s character not likable, but he also wasn’t interesting in his unlikeability.

Some good examples are Denzel Washington in Training Day, Ray Liotta in GoodFellas (especially the last half hour) and even Robert Pattinson in the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time. All these characters are in high-pressure situations (specifically related to problems of crime and addiction) and while none of these guys are good people, they are compelling characters, balancing their uncontrollable compulsions with personality traits that are incredibly smart (or at least clever), wily, charismatic, and multi-dimensional. They’re all interesting people because of their complexities despite their amorality.

But Sandler’s Howard is essentially a sociopath, with utter disregard for other people in his life because of his gambling addiction (and likely, an adrenaline junkie for phenomenally risky behavior) but outside of that, not very interesting as a character. His wife, mistress, brother-in-law and father (all terrific performances, especially Eric Begosian) are interesting, but his relationship with them consists mostly of yelling, cursing, gaslighting, and then trying to make amends (never convincingly). So while the pace is breakneck, there was absolutely nothing about him that was compelling, because he’s not particularly smart, wily, or charismatic. He’s a character who only knows how to hump one note over and over again–entitled (and remarkably stupid) rage mixed with thick-headed self-pity.

Now yes, I’m sure there are people just like that out there, but that doesn’t automatically make good drama imho. Howard is a black hole that sucks everyone into his misery and while family is family, I can’t see one thing that his mistress sees in him. He doesn’t even have his typical cutesy-funny hang-dog look that allows Sandler to score gorgeous babes in his rom coms. He’s just a nightmare and I can only consider the finale an unconditionally happy ending (except perhaps for Arno’s fate). Howard’s crazy parlays are not really a vindication of his true insight but just proof that an addict will do or say anything out of desperation and his payout wouldn’t have changed anything in his life, so there’s no tragedy in getting his comeuppance.

So while this is all conveyed with an undeniable immediacy by the Safdie Bros, the film doesn’t take me anywhere interesting or reveal something compelling (except for on the margins, outside of Howard’s toxic influence). I had my problems with Good Time, but I think that is a far better movie in every way (especially aesthetically, with some really remarkable nighttime photography that adds a ton of ambience that this film lacks). I’m still keen on what the Safdies and Sandler (in stretching his persona) have to offer in the future, but this was largely a bust for me.

One minor nitpick about your post is that Judd Hirsch’s character wasn’t Howard’s father but instead his father-in-law. Howard mentioned to someone (I think the doctor) that his father died of colon cancer.

I liked the movie, though.

Thanks for the correction. That takes even more chutzpah I suppose. :wink: