If you’ve ever thought that Adam Sandler couldn’t act his way out of a wet paper bag: meet Howard Ratner, an Adam Sandler character that gets into a much stickier jam than being trapped in such a bag. It is indeed Sandler’s acting that helps us love this struggling character in the Safdie brothers’ modern and gritty realist auteuresque drama.
Directed by Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems stars Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a has-been successful New York gems dealer that has raked up a severe amount of gambling debt. Ratner now has a chance at a big-score when he comes into possession of a rare and precious gem that he believes to be worth a million dollars; if he can balance all of the people that are after him for his various schemes involving pawning gems for protection against debts and betting any money that comes to him on basketball. Rotten Tomatoes rates it at a 92% and says, “Uncut Gems reaffirms the Safdies as masters of anxiety -inducing cinema – and proves that Adam Sandler remains a formidable dramatic actor when given the right material.”
There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to Uncut Gems. It appears to be having a great festival run with special presentations happening at VIFF, TIFF, and now WIFF365. Reviews for the film have been mostly good. The Independent says of Sandler, “it’s the best performance of his career. [He] toys with his audience’s empathy, disgust and pity like a cat with its next meal.” There was some Oscar buzz about the movie, particularly for Adam Sandler’s career highlighting performance, but his name was not mentioned on the Oscar nominee’s announcement this morning. Is this another example of the Academy ignoring comedic actors in dramatic roles? Post your comments below.
Oscar nomination, or not, Sandler’s characterization of Howard Ratner is full of rich strokes of genius – he speaks as fast as he is quick to be shrewd, never missing an opportunity to capitalize any way he can. His shrewdness is evident in every scene as he continues to make shady deals in pursuit of quick earning, and is ultimately the character’s tragic flaw.
Filmed in New York City, Uncut Gems features an intense opening scene shot in South Africa and takes us into the world of precious gem trading. It is also an exciting piece of Howard’s world of mysterious gems, gambling and risk-taking. This gritty drama is meant to be seen on the big-screen, preferably as part of a film festival, where you’re not just viewing it with the public, but with eager film buffs that are communally engaged, like at WIFF365.
For WIFF, it is another Netflix film to be screened before it streams on Netflix. The Irishman had a screening run in November, and now airs on the successful streaming service. Don’t wait to see Uncut Gems online though, this movie is so good it deserves to be seen on the big screen. You can search upcoming screening events in Windsor on our new Events calendar, featured in the top of the sidebar menu.