Frenetic Filmmaking Gone Wild
The best words to describe Uncut Gems are “perfectly awful.” It’s frantic, stressful, manic, and hideously unpleasant. Because it was shot in New York City, actor Eric Bogosian, who has the part of thug Arno in the film, said to journalist Abbey White in The Hollywood Reporter, “This city is frenetic, and there’s no other way to describe this movie other than frenetic. I mean, you absolutely get caught up in the energy.”
This is, of course, an understatement as the movie blasts you with an ear-splitting soundtrack. Also, frenetic film editing by a film cutter who seems as though he couldn’t wait to get to the end so that the two-second long cuts make you dizzy. Dialogue is spoken at breakneck speeds with everyone talking at once. All the actors yell and shout their lines as though they needed to be heard above the din of a jackhammer in the room. There is no modulation of acting whatsoever. The blame all falls into the laps of co-directors Benny and Josh Safdie. Are they Siamese twins with one side not knowing what the other is doing?
Adam Sandler, taking a break from his wimpy comedic characters, is trying out drama for a rare outing. He’s playing Howard Ratner, a jeweler in New York who likes to gamble. The only problem? He gambles using other people’s money, usually from a big sale of jewelry. He figures he can make a big win by purchasing a rare gemstone rock from the Somalian mines. Famed basketball star Kevin Garnett shows interest in the gemstone and wants to buy it. Howard figures it’s worth a cool million and plans to auction it off to get top dollar. The scheme doesn’t go as planned and everything goes awry. This is all done in a Keystone Cops frenzy, during which the viewer is completely confused and wonders what is going on.
Sandler’s goofy Howard has buck teeth that make him look like he’s wearing his grandmother’s dentures. He cheats on his wife, played by Broadway legend Idina Menzel. He has his floozy on the side, played by perky Julia Fox. Rock star The Weekend makes a nonsensical appearance in a club, only to get beaten up. The directors must not like his singing. The whole film seems like a mess. It's confusing, frantically paced, a muddle of crazy situations, and totally unwatchable.
(Released by A24/Netflix and rated "R" for pervasive strong language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use.)