Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems ★★

Yet another Safdie Brothers entry into the "Irredeemable Piece of Shit Makes Increasingly Bad Choices For Two Hours" genre of films. I can't knock the filmmakers on the technical aspects - every element here is consciously, effectively chosen to achieve their vision.

It's just that the vision doesn't work for me at all.

People describe this as "anxiety inducing" and that's clearly the intended effect - the incessant wall-to-wall noise, the unrelenting close ups, Howard's constantly escalating series of stupid and desperate calls - but I just have to ask, "To what end?" It should go without saying that characters don't HAVE to be likable, they don't even HAVE to develop - but the film as a whole should have some sort of point. Uncut Gems doesn't. Howard is a piece of shit frantically yelling at all the other pieces of shit in his life who gets shaken down by some piece of shit criminals, wash, rinse, repeat for two hours and then the movie stops with nothing having been accomplished.

It's a cast of repellent, repugnant characters who have nothing to say. It's not a failure of the actors, it's a problem I have with the very core of the story (and, sure, Adam Sandler is good here, but we already know he's a capable actor when he wants to be, so there's no novelty to his performance for me).

I had similar issues with Good Time, but at least there's a glimmer of humanity and meaning at that film's conclusion (even if it only comes in the very last few minutes). Uncut Gems is like a shaggy dog story, except the entire lead-up to the unsatisfying conclusion is purposefully unpleasant.

I've clearly just missed the boat on the Safdie Brothers. They're talented guys with a vision and a voice all their own, but it doesn't jive with me. I just wish I could love this as much as everyone else seems to.

At least I still have my Japanese cartoons.

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