Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a high-end jeweler in New York, but Ratner owes people, dangerous people. He owes Arno (Eric Begosian) $100,000 and he wants it now.
Always seeking the next big score, Ratner begins shifting money to place big bets on Celtic basketball games. To add to his stresses, he lends pro basketball player, Kevin Garnett (playing himself) an uncut opal illegally shipped from Africa.
As Ratner avoids his creditors, he attempts to salvage his family life and marriage, but his life quickly unravels forcing him into more and more desperate moves.
“Uncut Gems” is the next film from writers/directors Josh and Benny Safdie (Good Time) who bring a dark and gritty edge to their work.
Ratner is a salesman, albeit a somewhat sleazy one. He is always working an angle, robbing Peter to pay Paul and his debts are beginning to catch up with him.
The Safdies offer a fast-paced, tension-filled story that welcomes audiences into the high-stakes, wealthy lives of pro-athletes, Jewish businessmen and the hangers-on who nip at their heels trying to gain access to a world in which they don’t belong. The bright, sparkling uncut gem is nicely contrasted with the dark emotional underbelly of Ratner’s life.
The stakes are high for Ratner, his marriage has failed, his kids see him as an imposter and his mistress sees him simply as a sugar daddy – he sees the auction of his uncut gem as the “big score” that will free him from debtors and fix his marriage – making everything better.
The performances are strong and real as we capture a glimpse into a world in which we are unfamiliar, but there are no likeable characters. Each person in this narrative wants something and is willing to attain it at others’ expense.
Sandler gives an honest performance as the far-reaching Ratner, his risk-tolerance is what drives this narrative and the character, offering most viewers an insight into a world we will never experience.
“Uncut Gems” is a diamond in the rough as one man struggles to “hit it big” while those around him struggle to hit him up.