BOSTON - The city of New York is infused into the DNA of Uncut Gems, a new film from the Safdie Brothers that was released wide on Christmas Day. However, the pedigree of Boston is strong in the movie. It stars a New England native, Adam Sandler, and also hinges on Kevin Garnett's role in the movie. Garnett, a former Boston Celtic, is a supporting actor in a movie that focuses heavily on the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Celtics. As such, it makes for a perfect movie to review here, for UpToBoston.
Uncut Gems is a thriller film set in the Diamond District during 2012. Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a jeweler in the city who continues to parlay money in the pursuit of a thrilling gambling win.
This is a movie that will rocket through your brain. If you are expecting a classic Sandler comedy, then you might want to steer clear of Uncut Gems. There is a lot of humor in the movie, but this is Sandler as you've never seen him before. This is now Grown Ups or Happy Gilmore. This is an ulcer-inducing, extremely stressful and anxious production that doesn't stop and doesn't take its boot of your throat. Overlapping dialogue, screaming matches, and the seventh most f-bombs in movie history percolate throughout the movie. It'll leave you with so much adrenaline, you won't know what to do with it.
I do think the performance from Sandler might be one of the year's best and could be one of the best of his career. But special attention should be given to the supporting cast. Eric Bogosian, playing Ratner's brother-in-law, is very emotive. Julia Fox, portraying Ratner's jewelry store employee, will come away as the film's breakout star. Idina Menzel is hilarious as Dinah Ratner and Lakeith Stanfield is flawless as usual as Ratner's assistant, Demany.
But truly, as all Boston readers, will be curious to know, the use of the Celtics is fantastic. The Safdies create a ton of tension around a series we already know the outcome to. And it will make you doubt your own sports memories! Plus, Garnett is incredible. I really believe that KG, channeling his famous athletic intensity, is giving the best performance ever by a former athlete. The pairing between Sandler and KG is leagues ahead of Sandler and Shaq.
If you have a chance and you're open to seeing Sandler flex his acting muscles, I would recommend checking out Uncut Gems. It's a thrill ride of a movie that might make you feel more anxious than you ever have before.
Uncut Gems is now playing in theaters in the United States. It is directed by Josh and Benny Safdie and written by Ronald Bronstein and the Safdies. It was produced by Elara Pictures, IAC Films, Sikelia Productions. It was distributed by A24 domestically and will be available on Netflix in international markets later this month.
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