Uncut Gems ★★★★½

Uncut Gems is overwhelming in the best sense, spinning a frantic tale of greed and the sheer addiction to risk. It's honestly overwhelming at many points, and it's hard to dissect it all on first viewing. There's a lot of craft here, and although there definitely are moments when it goes too far into a pure sensory overload, the film is utterly mesmerizing for the most part.

Sandler's performance as Howard Ratner is magnetic, a horrible hustler who has no idea when to quit. He's someone you want to root for despite being an absolutely terrible person, and this is somewhat due to how the role plays with Sandler's star image. Howard has the appearance of a family man, but lacks any level of decency for them. He's desperate, trying to get his life together in the most convoluted manner, while also being more than happy with having that be a facade for the time-being. The rest of the ensemble is fine too, but outside of Kevin Garnett's surprisingly great supporting role, isn't worth individual description.

As the film builds and builds, it works wonders in getting you on Howard's side despite his constant failures due to his own obvious misjudgments. Howard's desire to win is infectious, and this is mostly due to the smart way the Safdies direct. There is some excess here; the Weekend's scene is notably a pretty hard watch, and the sound design, while always being interesting, sometimes trounces the audience with so much to follow along. The score coupled with said sound design creates a bizarre tone that the film actually makes work for the most part, although, as aforementioned, there are certainly a couple scenes here and there that in some manner miss the mark.

Uncut Gems treats its audience the same way Howard treats his collectors; sometimes with contempt but always with a desire to impress. With Sandler's best performance in years and an utterly enthralling story, it's one of the year's best films, simply due to how innovative it feels while being remarkably funny. It keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire runtime, so that when the ending finally hits, a gigantic feeling washes over you. What that feeling is, it's hard to describe, but yet, leaving Uncut Gems, the only thing that comes to mind is that it doesn't matter if you win or lose; it's how you play the game.

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