Uncut Gems is a high-octane anxiety ridden trip of a film. Yet, whenever my body tells me to turn off the film, I keep feeling compelled to watch it all the way through until by the time the film is over, I need the peace and tranquillity of a white room with no external objects or fast moving stimuli. A ten day Vipassana meditation course may be needed!
The main protagonist of the film, a Jewish New Yorker jeweller named Howard Ratner played by Adam Sandler, keeps unnecessarily falling into tricky and at times dangerous situations. On one hand, I want to sympathise with him and his misfortune, but on the other he ultimately creates his own problems. It’s like he wants to spend his life swimming in quicksand when it would be less painful just to take the smooth plain vanilla road.
What’s more he is a father with kids to support. If he were single, hell, get into any kind of hot mess you want. But if you have a family, that is beyond selfish. Ratner’s mind is like a fast flowing river. There are seldom any moments of peace in his frantic dome. It is a gamblers mind he possesses and the thrill of it all seems to be his raison d’etre. A pretty pathetic one. He’s like the quintessential stock market speculator who never does any thorough due diligence on a stock and gets excited simply by a hot tip or any kind of hype. He will be the first to catch the FOMO (fear of missing out) fever.
Even when he wins big, like towards the end of the film, there is no grace in his behaviour. His gamblers’ mind simply glows more red hot. And if his life weren’t abruptly cut short, you can bet your bottom dollar he would keep gambling with whatever money he has left until he’s back to a no money situation or worse, further deep in debt.
People close to him find him draining. Especially his long suffering wife who bears the bulk of his chaos. One night she tells him to his face; ‘I think you are the most annoying person I have ever met’. And she’s right. He’s an exhausting and draining motherfucker. An impulsive, low grade hustler bereft of wisdom. I think any woman in a relationship long enough with Howard would get so beaten down to the point where a boring but dependable relationship devoid of even a modicum of drama would seem very attractive.
As ghastly and shady as the people pursuing him may be, they ultimately do him a favour by gunning him down. Throughout the film he is a hazard to himself and those around him. He’s like some insufferable stray dog constantly barking. A broken record. In the end someone somewhere was bound to lose patience and say, ‘Somebody shoot the dog’.
By Nicholas Peart
(c)All Rights Reserved
3rd December 2021