Blu-ray Review: Uncut Gems

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie | CAST: Adam Sandler, Eric Bogosian, Idina Menzel, LaKeith
Stanfield, Julia Fox
RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2020 | PRICE: DVD $14.96, Blu-ray $19.99
BONUSES: featurette
SPECS: R | 135 min. | Crime drama thriller | 2.39:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | Spanish and English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2 | Audio  1/2 | Video  1/2 | Overall  1/2

Frenzied and thrilling with the ability to entertain and annoy in a single bound, Uncut Gems is a character study of a hyperactive character who is tough to like and much easier to hate. He’s Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler, Pixels), a New York jeweler who’s in quite a bind:  He owes lots of money to loan sharks, including a family member (Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio) who looks forward to beating the hell out of him. His plan to get the needed cash is to purchase a rare Ethiopian opal —on borrowed money, of course–and unload it to the highest bidder. What could go wrong? With the mercurial Howard orchestrating things…everything.

Uncut Gems is the latest from The Safdie Brothers, the New York-based siblings, whose last film, 2017’s Good Time, brought them lots of attention.  This film carries the energy and edginess of their previous volatile crime saga—multiplied exponentially. This film follows its protagonist over a 24-hour period in which he loans his prized jewel to Boston Celtics guard Kevin Garnett as a good luck charm, engages in constant squabbles with a fellow hustler associate (LaKeith Stanfield, Sorry To Bother You), juggles his faltering marriage to Dinah (Idina Menzel, Frozen) with an affair with co-worker Julia (newcomer Julia Fox), and is continually endangered while lying to get out of near-fatal jams.

At the center of this topsy-turvy universe, captured with appropriate restlessness by top-notch cinematographer Darius Khondji (Se7en, Midnight in Paris), is Sandler in a career best performance. Like the film, he give it all without filter. We’ve seen him do good work before in efforts such as Punch-Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories, but nothing as challenging as this, and he delivers in spades. The rest of the cast is terrific, too, with the neophyte Fox drawing attention and Menzel acidly funny as Ratner’s long-suffering wife.

Uncut Gems pulled in a solid $49 million at the box-office and received mostly fine reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it pulled a 92% in reviews, but the audience scores settled in the 50% area, meaning that half the moviegoers were dazed and confused while reviewers were simply dazzled.

Prospects for acceptance in its post-theatrical life are forceful, much like the film itself.

Buy or Rent Uncut Gems

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.