Adam Sandler has a bit of a reputation as cinematic kryptonite. In recent years, he has notoriously churned out uninspired comedies that aren’t funny, and it can be easy to forget about the charisma and talent that made him a draw for audiences in the first place. Uncut Gems serves as a reminder of what the actor is capable of, while feeling as opposite a typical ‘Adam Sandler movie’ as possible.

The film follows Howard Ratner (Sandler), a New York City jeweler constantly in search of his next big score. He’s a whirlwind of bad decisions, bouncing between pawn shops and bookies while dodging loan sharks. It’s all very messy and frustrating, but also highly engaging. Sandler gives Howard a captivating, chaotic energy that draws you in, much like the kaleidoscopic beauty of the African black opals that drive the plot.

Along with pulling a great performance from Sandler, directors Josh and Benny Safdie give every frame a sense of tension. From sound design to camera movement, every element works together to create mounting anxiety. Sometimes thrilling, sometimes funny, Uncut Gems is certainly not a relaxing experience, but it never loses momentum.

Should you see it? Yes. It’s a ride worth taking. —S.W.
Viewed at Landmark Tivoli Theatre