Adam Sandler is no longer just that weird, loutish comedian making silly movies. He still is all of that, but after a stellar turn in the anxiety-inducing “Uncut Gems”, he’s also a potential Oscar nominee.
“Uncut Gems” is not a movie for everyone. It’s a tense, anxious and loud film that never lets up and never slows down. It’s an ugly look into an ugly world, but Sandler masterfully holds the rudder as he sails the audience through the story. It’s the role of his career.
And as a lifelong Adam Sandler fan, it’s nice to see him outside of his comfort zone. “Pixels” this ain’t.
Sandler plays Manhattan jeweler Howard Ratner, a hustler and gambling addict who owes a lot of money to a lot of dangerous people. He gets into debt making bets, then tries to get out of debt by making even bigger bets. When a rare, African black opal arrives at his jewelry shop, Ratner thinks he’s got the score of the century — but he’s first got to contend with bookies, legbreakers and Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett.
Sandler is electric as Howard Ratner. He disappears into the role of this despicable gambling addict, but maintains enough of his Sandler charm that I couldn’t help but hope for the best for Howard. Like a lot of gambling addicts, though, the character is his own worst enemy. “Uncut Gems” is a powerful look into the sense-shaking terror of gambling addictions and power fantasies.
Howard’s world never lets up, and the movie basks in that madness. Taking place over a couple of days, “Uncut Gems” is a constant stream of people talking over one another and rapid fire quick cuts between characters and scenes. The directors, Josh and Benny Safdie, never give Howard a moment to catch his breath as he rushes from one scene to the next.
“Uncut Gems” never lets the audience relax, and while that can be a little intense, it’s an exciting ride if you’re willing to strap in and take it all the way to the end. Just don’t go in expecting your typical Adam Sandler comedy.