I don’t get Adam Sandler, I really don’t.
First, he gives birth to for some of the worst films of the last decade such Grown Ups (2010), The Ridiculous Six (2016) and Pixels (2015).
But then he turns around and gives us amazing films like today’s Uncut Gems, where he turns in an honest-to-goodness Oscar worthy performance.
Seriously, it feels like he’s pulling an elaborate prank on all of us.
Gems sees Sandler star as Howard Ratner, a New York jeweler and gambling addict who manages to smuggle a rare black opal from Ethiopia in the hopes of paying off the many debts he owes to the banks and local mobsters.
The first 30 minutes of this film are rather slow and serve mainly to give exposition. Once Ratner gets his hands on the opal, though, the movie hits breakneck speed and doesn’t let up.
This is helped a lot by Sandler’s frantic, oftentimes manic acting along with star performances from Eric Bogosian as Ratner’s viscious loan-shark brother-in-law, Idina Menzel (the voice of Elsa) as Ratner’s exasperated and fed-up wife and NBA superstar Kevin Garnett as a fictional version of himself that becomes convinced that the opal grants him supernatural powers.
However, don’t expect a forced redemption here. Ratner is not a good person and everything that happens is entirely his fault. At the same time, that is part of why Gems is so compelling.
There’s a weird sort of paranoid excitement to watching Ratner dig himself so deep into a hole that his only option is to keep digging until he breaks through the other side.
Combine all this with excellent direction and cinematography and you have, pardon the pun, a gem of a film.