Uncut Gems (2019) – A Nerve Experience

The new Safdie brothers movie, “Uncut Gems”, tests your adrenaline in facing a formidable challenge that the protagonists face as well. Although this is my most anticipated movie especially it came from A24, I just have to say I love and enjoy this freaking movie. It’s the same as I enjoy “Good Time” too. Josh and Benny Safdie brought Adam Sandler, and his breathtaking performance ever, to plunge directly into “narrow” streets. He takes an opportunity to put his stake, debts, lives, and risky bet into hope. But, the problem is as much as he jumps into the rabbit hole, he is increasingly difficult to reach the mainland. So, he always fails at it and makes himself destroyed little by little.

There is a lot of chance in such bets. However, Adam Sandler as a douche always takes further action. He prefers to play as the red zone instead of not thinking twice whether he would get a happy ending or not. Sandler as Howard knew very well what world he was in. He felt obsessed with these bets that he sacrificed his entire family as well as his stake. “Uncut Gems” glows Adam Sandler’s character for unable to cut the look he was betting on. However, it’s about how Howard can master and cut the core in himself.

I can’t say if I was a former fan of Adam Sandler as a kid and also a teenager. He could be funny material for some people. But, he can also be one of the actors with Oscar-worthy performance. Since “Punch-Drunk Love“, or maybe “Jack and Jill” too, Adam Sandler has proven that he can too. The only thing that he can’t master is himself. He doesn’t want to let himself find a new character. Because of that, he always fell and was getting rid off of the red carpet and spotlight. It’s proving how bad an actor is not the actor itself. Instead, it’s the director’s job to craft the actor’s performance and character.

There is symbolism, also beautifully shot which reminds me of Fincher-esque, in the first sequence. We go to the inside of a black opal with a sudden transition to a hospital monitor. It emphasizes and foreshadowing what will happen at the end and what is the meaning of that sequence. There are layers in the opal but it’s not cut on its own. It’s a metaphor if, how big is the scissors and as many sharp tools as you can to cut the opal, at the end of the day, it’s worthless. There is a magnificent power that cannot be valued directly with modal.

Safdie brothers, since “Good Time”, known with their indie projects and many unique projects. This is my second view to see the directors’ work. There is a film called “Daddy Longlegs”, the most appropriate title I have ever heard in a movie. But, people know them because of “Good Time”, one of the best from the directors. Since the film also, people always assume that Safdie brothers have popularized a new genre called anxiety. However, I can’t say if “Good Time” is a film that popularized the “genre”. You can look back at “A Clockwork Orange” even though the tone of both movies were kind of different.

Both “Good Time” and “Uncut Gems” relies more on the protagonist who falls into the rabbit hole, cannot get out, and falls into the hole deeply. Both films also emphasize how to keep the audience sitting and feel uncomfortable with the choices made by the protagonist. It’s more similar and familiar when you compare the two films, especially the ending of both movies. Both of them show how the protagonist has reached the hole but then falls into the deepest hole and cannot climb back again.

Watching both films makes it hard to breathe. You try to breathe but both of them didn’t give you enough space. It’s enough to say also with “Uncut Gems” especially. Howard is a great and “bad” character. He is greedy, greedy, careless, and always takes the wrong step. Besides he has a jewelry store in a tiny space, Howard and his small world are always squeezed by a bigger world. Kevin Garnett (played as himself and I’m not kidding if he was great in this movie as well) feels connected with an uncut gem.

Garnett said that if the opal had revealed up his identity and strength in being able to help a bet, raise the bet, and achieve the highest score in basketball. Howard, without thinking, will always say yes and yes regardless he never knows what he controlled. Howard made many bad decisions and he ended himself in a bad ending in each of these decisions. All of these people, especially Howard and even his wife (Idina Menzel), really hate Howard. He just always vent his problems and desire to a young mistress (Julia Fox), hired her, took him to his apartment but she also helped in raising Howard’s bet.

When watching “Good Time”, there was so much vibe into it. A very memorable depiction of a set of retro cities in the 70s, the aesthetic, the nerve ending, everything. It’s a movie that puts more pressure on the protagonist to beat a time. No time should be wasted and if there was little, the comfortable feeling can turn into a panic attack. Similar to “Uncut Gems”, the protagonist doesn’t have much time to relax. Howard not only faces time but he faces those who haunt him. Whether he was hiding anywhere, these people always saw him.

With that said, I enjoyed it more and was more uncomfortable with the ending of this movie than “Good Time”. I might be able to prefer this movie instead of “Good Time” but both of them are great movies. It could be, it’s one of the decades I can enjoy films like this again. People might say that the theme of the film doesn’t exist. Maybe this movie is just an addiction, greedy, gambling, the underground world, and so on. But, that’s the beautiful thing about us. “Uncut Gems” is a fantasy, a delusional, a panic attack mixed with anxiety in one film and tries to haunt you to the edge of your seat. Probably, this is one of the exhilarating and breathtaking movies I watched this year.

4 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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