Uncut Gems goes beyond tradition

The Hidden Gem: Uncut Gems surprises critics and viewers with its realness and exceptional acting.

Melanie Pena

The Hidden Gem: “Uncut Gems” surprises critics and viewers with it’s realness and exceptional acting.

“This is how I win,” Howard Ratner stammered to NBA champion Kevin Garrnet about the millions of dollars people have down betting on his upcoming game.

Its life of a roach trying to live with its head cut off.

The lights are on and the fridge is too far to get under.

The Safdie brothers have conquered the indie film circuit by directing movies like “Good Time” and “Heaven Knows What” both masterfully crafting the art of “eye gouging tension”.

Their latest release is their magnum opus, the movie they have been wanting to make for years now.

“Uncut Gems” tells the story of Howard Ratner, a slimy jeweler who sells high-tier jewelry to celebrities.

He has a crippling gambling addiction and a horrible temper that leads him down into a rabbit hole of loan sharks and debt that only builds until its breaking point.

Its watchers cringe and wince to all these horrible actions, practically screaming at the screen to turn back now, but Howard’s story begins with the world already against him.

Howard is played by actor/comedian Adam Sandler.

Sandler is known for his hit or miss comedy movies about family, love, and cringy sex jokes.

He only ever appeared in more dramatic roles like “Punch Drunk Love” and “The Meyerowitz Stories”. Adam is an enigma, seen as a joke and one note actor in most cases, except he brings a sparkle of realism and sincerity to these characters.

Howard is treated the same.

The choice to pick Adam Sandler as their lead was intentional, as he brings a fire of charisma.

Without it, Howard would be disgusting to watch.

This type of balancing act by Sandler is the crux of the film and definitely his best performance to date.

Safdie brothers chose to use mostly unknown actors for their supporting cast.

Retired famous basketball player Kevin Garrnet plays himself in his most proficient year.

It was the most oddly impressive performance from a basketball player since Michael Jordan in “Space Jam”. Julia Fox is another standout actress. Her character is crazy and obnoxious, but somehow keeps Sandler’s performance from becoming campy. Even RnB/pop star “The Weeknd” makes a cameo. Abel Makkonen Tesfaye plays a heightened version of himself that comes head to head with Sandler.

Most viewers will find it difficult to sit through this movie. Its dirty realism and up-close camera angles allow you to see the sweat coming out of their pores, making the watcher jarred and nauseous as the suspense ramps up. While Howard isn’t a character you easily root for, most of his pitfalls seem self inflicted. Sandler’s performance is masterfully done, portraying a flawed man who happens to be his own worst enemy. I wouldn’t be surprised if people came out of this movie hating his character off feeling alone.

The tension is electric from start to finish. Characters talk over each other to get their point across, random characters show up demanding money from Howard, and the soundtrack sounds like an 80s sci-fi- horror movie, all culminating to the explosion that is “Uncut Gems.”