Uncut Gems: BRWC LFF Review
Fresh from the success of the terrific Heaven Knows What and the wonderfully absorbing Good Time, the Safdie Brothers’ latest film is a roller-coaster of thrills from start to finish, proving themselves once again to be true masters of suspense cinema, capable of unnerving any audience.
In Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler plays a jewellery dealer with a mountain of debts, facing a race against time for his life, in a New York-based crime thriller that carries a level of grit not seen in Hollywood for many years. It has a particularly authentic feel to it, thanks in large part to the raw and chaotic style that the Safdie Brothers have now perfected.
This is an absolute masterclass in tense, pulse-racing cinema, designed to discomfort the viewer in the best way imaginable. It’s genuinely edge-of-your-seat stuff, and the erratic nature of it all is at once unsafe, unnerving and unpredictable.
In amongst the thrills are plenty of legitimate laughs, in what could only be considered a black comedy in the strongest possible sense. It’s certainly not for everyone, carrying with it the potential of being either your favourite film of the year or your least favourite, but those who find themselves wrapped up in it will find it impossible to forget.
Of course, the main talking point with this film is that of the terrific central performance from Adam Sandler, who proves once again that, when given strong material, he is an extremely capable dramatic actor. Much like Punch-Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories, the range in his performance is admirable, and much credit must go to the Safdie Brothers for their work with actors, as we saw with Robert Pattinson’s career-defining turn in Good Time.
Adam Sandler is a difficult man for film lovers to like. In many ways, the films he makes and the way he conducts those productions represents the very worst of Hollywood and just how shallow mainstream cinema has become, but its testament to his performance that these preconceived opinions are largely forgotten after about three minutes, with films like Grown Ups and Jack and Jill a distant memory. He is outstanding in this film, in a role that utilises both his dramatic and comedic talents, and that’s really all that matters.
Uncut Gems is utterly relentless from start to finish; a true force of nature that is excruciating to sit through yet impossible to look away from. Its provocative style will prove no doubt to be divisive, but those who engage with it will be rewarded with one of the most high-pressure, adrenaline-fueled American films in years.
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