Grackles review Uncut Gems

Directed by Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie 

Reviewed by Scott Ray and Charlie Riccardelli 

Josh and Benny Safdie (better known as the Safdie Brothers), a directorial/writing duo from New York City, are filmmakers of place and of atmosphere. Uncut Gems is technically their sixth feature film, but most filmgoers will know them from their breakthrough 2017 crime thriller Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson. Good Time, a frenetic, anxiety inducing journey through the late-night Queens underworld of botched bank robbery and prison breaks is a good precursor to Uncut Gems, both visually and thematically. In both films the Safdie Brothers show their dedication to filming on location and utilizing first time actors it sometimes seems they found out on the streets of New York during the shoot.

Uncut Gems follows Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a jeweler and gambling addict with a shop in New York City’s famed Diamond District, whose gambling debts and ethically dubious business decisions are coming to a head as the film begins. When his brother-in-law loanshark Arno (Eric Bogosian) pressures Howard to repay his debts, Howard goes on a whirlwind last ditch spree, gambling his livelihood, his familial, extramarital, and professional relationships, and his life, in a scheme involving a rare uncut opal and a Celtics run in the NBA finals.

Scott Ray: Charlie, it’s been a long time since I’ve had this kind of a response from a film. In the last half hour of the movie I could feel my heart beating in my chest. I thought I was going to have a panic attack in the theatre during one particularly tense scene. I wasn’t just emotionally connecting with the film—I was having an actual physical reaction. I think the last time