Directed by: Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
Written by: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie, and Benny Safdie
Starring: Adam Sandler, LaKeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, and Eric Bogosian
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
Uncut Gems is one of the most confusing movies I’ve ever seen, but not because of its plot structure, philosophy, cinematography, or character development. It’s confusing because I don’t know if I loved it or hated it, if it’s a masterpiece or a dumpster fire, if it’s a drama or a comedy or a horror film. Add to this the frustration and stress invoked by the characters and situations and one is presented with a most infuriating, captivating, stressful, and bogus movie.
Sandler is great, but no one else is, and his performance alone isn’t enough to watch solely for the acting. The storytelling isn’t that good either, as the movie bounds from one crazy situation to the next with no rhyme or rhythm. The decisions he makes are so bad, his motivations so pathetic that it’s hard to cheer for him.
Still, something about the tension of the film keeps it interesting enough not to turn it off, and before long everything converges. Then it focuses, allowing the viewer to experience concluding moments while in the heightened state that the first half induced instead of through the lens of confusion, stress, and frustration that it ground.
I didn’t enjoy the film, though I did want to; I might even say I disliked it. It’s difficult to say how much of this is due to unmet expectations, but I do believe I would have enjoyed the film more had I known nothing going into the viewing. But it didn’t handle these expectations, nor was it a complete film, despite Sandler’s great performance and solid conclusion, so I cannot recommend it except for die-hard Sandler fans and to people who like to watch movies with a lot of pointless yelling and shouting.