Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Directed by Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Starring Mesfin Lamengo, Sun Zhi Hua-Hilton, Liang Wei-Hui-Duncan, Sunny Wu Jin Zahao

Author

Dark, twisted, disturbing. You know it’s going to be intense going in, with a compound fracture and a first-person colonoscopy five minutes in.

Every scene has a frenetic energy, a tension, an urgency, a nightmarish sense of dread, thanks to good writing, dialogue, editing, and photography. The retro synth score is appealing and effective, helping to sustain the tension in a lot of the bridging scenes that might otherwise slow the momentum. The score comes from the 80’s, but it works.

Very real, thanks to amazingly authentic performances by Sandler and the incredible supporting cast. Who knew Adam Sandler had this in him. A really impressive performance for a guy who has made a career of goofball comedies. His performance is gutsy and raw, his character is believable and tragic, and the false teeth sealed the deal. Might even consider an Oscar for him, and I can’t wait to see if he does more dramatic work. Sandler’s performance is another argument that anyone who can make good comedy can do really good drama if they want to.

Newcomer Julia Fox is fantastic, playing an important supporting role with maturity and authenticity. New faces Bogosian (as Arno) and Richards (as Phil) are absolutely terrifying. Idina Menzel’s performance is shockingly heavy. Judd Hirsch, The Weeknd, John Amos, and even Tilda Swinton all contribute perfectly. KG and Stanfield are amazing together. The celebs and cameos and familiar faces all work, none are distracting.

The vintage 2012 iPhone UI is a nice detail, but why does this story have to take place in 2012? Is this an old script? Why didn’t they update it to 2019? What purpose did the compound fracture serve? Was it simply there to set the tone early? And how did KG leave his office so quickly when the cronies were coming in the front door? Did he jump out the window? And what happened to Julia and the money? Intentionally ambiguous.

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