• James Rutherford

'Uncut Gems': A Gritty Thriller About a Diamond Merchant Caught in a Desperate Race-Against-Time


Movie poster for the film The Safdie Brothers' Uncut Gems starring Adam Sandler

Uncut Gems (2019) is a searing and gritty urban thriller set in 2012 and starring Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a charismatic jeweler operating out of New York City’s Diamond District. Coming into possession of a rare and valuable black opal from Ethiopia, Howard devises an illicit plan to auction off the prized commodity in order to pay off overwhelming gambling debts.


Overjoyed by his acquisition, Ratner is poised to make a tremendous profit before he's sidetracked by a fateful meeting with then-NBA star Kevin Garnett. Delivered to Howard through middleman Demany (LaKeith Stanfield), Garnett borrows the tantalizing mineraloid hoping that its mystical powers will bolster his success on the hardwood. This perilous decision leaves Howard scrambling against time to retrieve the opal, just as vicious thugs representing his own brother-in-law Arno (Eric Bogosian) begin to encircle and menace while demanding restitution.


Written and directed by Bennie and Josh Safdie (Heaven Knows What, Good Time), Uncut Gems is a fierce and propulsive concoction, highlighted by Sandler’s utterly magnetic performance. He's perfectly cast as the high-strung and demonstrative Ratner, in all of his sleazy and manipulative glory. A major step forward in the careers of all three principals, it’s a wild and intoxicating experience that demands to be appreciated first-hand.

 

View the trailer: