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19. Uncut Gems; movie review

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Title : 19. Uncut Gems; movie review
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Cert 15
135 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong language, sex, sex references, injury detail, violence

Before we start on Uncut Gems, it would be better if we parked anyone's surprise that Adam Sandler is an accomplished straight actor.
He was terrific in the 2007 movie Reign Over Me and already had form with Punch-Drunk Love.
I am sure I have left others out. Anyway, he is more than capable of diversions from Jack-and-Jill-style comedy.
The problem with Uncut Gems is that, he may be playing it straight but it is still so screechy that I had a headache after being subjected to him for two hours.
Benny and Josh Safdie's film stars Sandler as New York jeweller Howard Ratner (is the surname deliberate?) who keeps his head above water by lying and cheating.
He is always looking to make the next big score but comes unstuck that many times, he is being chased for money by many dangerous people.
In addition, he is so obnoxious that even his wife (Idina Menzel) cannot stand him. This might be down to his unreliability or his affair with one of his staff (Julia Fox).
Anyway, Sandler's character believes that he might have hit upon a foolproof way of making very big bucks when he imports a rock containing a number of raw gemstones from Ethiopia.
Inevitably, however good an idea it may be, Howard has a consistent habit of turning it into havoc.
Playing his part in the latter is real-life basketball superstar-turned-actor Kevin Garnett who falls instantly for the aforementioned rock.
Meanwhile, the chase for Howard over debts becomes more and more intense.
I struggled with Uncut Gems from its very strange start in which the cast can scarcely be heard over weird music which is a cross between funereal and 2001 A Space Odyssey.
Thereafter, I could barely fathom what was happening because the shouting is so loud it is bordering on incomprehensible.
And finally, key moments require a knowledge of gambling and basketball which I simply don't possess.
Previous reading had led me to believe that I would enjoy Uncut Gems but I found it charmless and unengaging. To even suggest that Sandler was worthy of Oscar consideration is bewildering.

Reasons to watch: Adam Sandler playing it dark
Reasons to avoid: Too much shouting, not enough focus

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 4/10

Did you know? Similar to Sandler’s Howard Ratner character, Alberto Safdie was a single father (divorced from the brothers’ mother Amy) living in Queens. He worked for a jeweller (also named Howard) as a jewel runner, encountering many colourful individuals and locales along the way.

The final word. Josh Safdie: "Am I non-judgmental? Yes, that means my gems are uncut. Am I on edge? Yes, my gems are uncut. Do I have depth underneath the surface? Yes, my gems are uncut. If my gems are cut, I’m like naked, ready to be seen. I’m potentially dangerous. " Vulture

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