Jan 11, 2021
On the podcast this week, Steven and Sean are ruining our damn lives by not knowing when to just freaking stop with our good friend and special guest, the inimitable Landon Coats! This week, we’re talking about the 2019 film from the Safdie Brothers, Uncut Gems.
Ugh, I need to take a shower. This movie isn’t going to leave you feeling bright, chipper, and clean by the end of it. I mean, content warning: if you or someone you know suffers from a debilitating addiction issue, then this film may not be for you. That is, unless watching someone spiral all the way down the bottomest of rock bottoms is an effective deterrent for you. If that’s what you need, then this one could be your saving grace.
It sure is something to watch another human being do everything they can to ruin their life. All shown over an agonizing two hours and fifteen minutes. Except it’s more tragic than that—Howard Ratner clearly isn’t able to control himself. It’s obvious he doesn’t like getting beat up, pissing off his family, or losing more money in a matter of hours than most people will make in an entire year. Who would enjoy that? Yet, he continues to throw away whatever life-saving breaks he’s given.
The guy has a serious gambling addiction, and it’s everyone around him who has to suffer the most. He gets a quick (albeit dreadful) out at the end of the film.
This is a tough watch, and yet, it’s one of the most rewarding films of the year. It’s a complex depiction of a side of humanity that none of us want to ever witness. We turn away and hide from addiction because it’s uncomfortable to deal with. Unless you turn this film off, there’s no turning away from Adam Sandler’s character.
The Safdie brothers deserve every good thing that happens to them for their work in crafting this gruesome masterwork. However, it’s clear that Sandler is the star of this film, no doubt about it. There should be no end to the praise he receives for his exhausting, complex, deep performance. It’s a damn shame that he wasn’t given even an Oscar nomination for his performance because it was the best of the entire year. Our hats are off to him.
This is a difficult film to watch, but if you can stomach it, you’re going to witness something special. This is an experience.
(Recorded on November 16, 2020)
Links to Stuff We Mentioned: