Review by Camden Ferrell
Uncut Gems is the new film from writers and directors Benny and Josh Safdie (Good Time). This crime thriller had its premiere at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival. This film is yet another anxiety-inducing roller coaster that is boosted by a career best performance from its lead and some risky yet confident execution.
This movie follows a New York City jeweler with a penchant for high-stakes bets and a lust for the ultimate win. We see him as he navigates his family life and professional life all while dealing with those he has wronged. It’s a great premise that lends itself to a lot of tension and raw energy. It’s also a creative approach to the thriller genre that feels fresh and original.
The Safdie brothers have established themselves as directors with a firm artistic vision that doesn’t conform to the status quo of cinema. They have shown their immense talent for creating chaos on screen, and this film is a perfect testament to that ability. Every aspect of this film is firmly controlled yet feels so artistically liberated and spontaneous that it makes this film incredibly electric from start to finish.
However, the real highlight of this film is the lead performance from Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love). This is the best performance of his career, and it’s one that really gives him a chance to show off his natural talent as an actor. He steals every scene he is in, and he infuses some fervent energy into the film. We get to see every emotion on the spectrum as his character tries to manage his bets and personal life. It’s a one-of-a-kind performance that stands out as one of this year’s best.
This film also features a strong supporting cast consisting of actors like LaKeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnett, and Julia Fox. These side characters support Sandler very well while also being strong performers in their own right. They are eccentric and unique in a way that prevents this film from feeling like a derivative thriller.
This film also boasts impressive technical features. The cinematography of this film is beautifully chaotic. Darius Khondji shot this film with a lot of colorful artistry while also capturing the more visually bleak side of its characters. The film also excels due to its fantastic sound mixing and score. It is an unnerving soundscape that heightens the intensity of this film. These technical aspects lead this film into increasingly gorgeous disorder.
This film is an act of cinematic entropy. We feel as if we are with our characters as they descend further into irreversible insanity. This is an absolutely nerve-racking experience that doesn’t allow its audience to ever truly exhale. It’s a triumph in many regards, and it is one of the most enjoyable and fun films of the year.
Uncut Gems is not for the faint of heart. It’s a non-stop thrill ride of a film. It is an experience that will leave you feeling winded and shocked yet thoroughly impressed. Sandler’s performance and the Safdie brothers’ direction is something that is not to be missed.
Uncut Gems is in theaters now.