Uncut Gems – 4 stars
Frenetic, excessive and nerve-wracking, one of those movies where you turn to your son with the “are you fucking kidding me?” look when you’re not crouched in your chair wincing. The recipient of your empathy is Adam Sandler, a New York jeweler in the diamond district, juggling a disaffected wife and three kids, a mistress thirty years his junior, and a gambling addiction. He is perpetually robbing Peter to pay Paul and thinning the skin of his teeth as the film progresses. This is one of a handful of serious roles for Sandler and he’s terrific (if you thought Al Pacino was terrific in Scarface – I did). Kevin Garnett plays himself, turns in a great deal more than you’d expect from a non-actor and is particularly affecting in a scene where Sandler likens his drive to make a financial score with that of a pro athlete.
On the downside, the film is so histrionic, it’s hard to find people you can actually identify with. You root for Sandler primarily because you want a particularly tense situation to resolve. And the soundtrack – a blend of Vangelis and the hum of an 80’s video game arcade – is distracting, discordant, and near-unforgivable.