COLUMN: ‘Uncut Gems’: a film filled with anxiety and tension

Rob Le Cates

Drew Coffey is a sophomore television/video production major. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

Drew Coffey, Columnist

“Uncut Gems” directed by John and Benny Safdie is the definition of anxiety.  

It is as simple as that.  

The film stars Adam Sandler and tells the story of a jeweler, Howard Ratner, obsessed with betting and getting his next big win. However, this reckless way of life begins to threaten him and his family’s safety as his obsession increases.  

Most notably, Adam Sandler is far from normal form in this film. Starring in predominantly comedic roles, this film really shows his dramatic capabilities as an actor. 

He perfectly portrays the addiction as well as the desperation that gambling can have on a person and the immense affect it can have on a family. His character is not one that we relate to and necessarily like as an audience which realistically portrays the problems and situation, he finds himself in.  

Julie Fox matches Sandler in an astounding debut performance. She plays his on and off again girlfriend and her performance represent the gritty life that can come from the world of gambling.  

Retired basketball player Kevin Garnett also has a substantial role in the film impressing with his surprising acting ability.  

The cinematography of “Uncut Gems” is very slick but appropriate for the tone of the film.  

The film has a pale look to it that evokes a sense of dread or depressing energy around the film. As Sandler’s character goes further and further down the rabbit hole, the film, as well as Sandler, look increasingly undesirable throughout.  

The camera work is also notably present in the film. Throughout many conversations with people, the camera will be very noticeable shaky and handheld.  

That is where the most anxiety in the film comes from: the conversations.  

Many scenes where Sandler’s character is talking to potential loan sharks or customers are tense with them constantly speaking over each other interrupting, yelling, and stuttering. These conversations go on an awkward but ultimately realistic amount of time giving the film a suspenseful and intense aura throughout its runtime.  

However, these interactions can potentially turn audiences away from the film because of the hyper anxious feeling the story gives.  

Especially at the end of the film where Howard Ratner, played by Sandler, is fulfilling his betting dream gambling on Kevin Garnett, the scene is especially nail biting.  

With the ending, the film ends in a way only fitting for Ratner’s character and actions. Without giving anything away, the film ends with the fate of the character being adequately poetic and ironic for Ratner.  

In the end, “Uncut Gems” is a massively tense and suspenseful film that realistically shows the world of gambling and the desperate lifestyle that people, like Ratner, go through in their daily lives.  

Overall rating: 4/5 

Drew Coffey is a sophomore television/video production major. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.