Saw Uncut Gems last night, and though their non-stop intensity isn't really my thing these days, I gotta say that the Safdie Brothers filmmaking is impressive.
Perhaps the heirs to Scorsese as hard core, yet stylish New York filmmakers, they like to deal with the streetwise hucksters who have spent their lives trying to make a big score, if only to try and rescue themselves from all the repeated falls that have turned them into "unlucky losers."
And Uncut Gems is as impressive a film as Good Times was, with its non-stop frenetic, risky hustle just to stay alive. The film's unrelenting pace mirrors the nature of Manhattan itself, and every moment is on the verge of being or becoming overwhelming, which is exactly what things are like for the main characters. While Uncut Gems is similar in many ways to Good Times, it is more ambitious and its characters are more developed (Adam Sandler is excellent, by the way, and Julia Fox reminded me some of Jennifer Lawrence). At the same time, the film is not quite as tight, which comes across most in the end.
The Safdie Brothers run the risk of exhausting viewers before we are half way into the film, but if you can stomach the roller coaster ride through purgatory this film has a lot to offer, and it almost fully satisfies its promise. If I were to round off my score, I would probably round down, though, mostly because the ending was not fully satisfying in terms of periphery characters and situations. It's never clear, for example, how Julia escapes the thug who has found out her whereabouts.
Even though I am pretty tired of films and characters of this ilk, I would give this one an 8.2 rating (maybe slightly above Good Times) and include it in my top 10 for the year (though I still have many more films to get to from 2019). And why is that, you might wonder? The answer is simply because the film is not only a fresh take on a tired genre, but also very imaginative, and skillfully done.
Last edited by cinewest
on February 23rd, 2020, 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.