ALL I WANT IS WIN
I gotta say, writing this review, amongst many other things, has been a hassle. You know when you’ve seen a good movie, but you can’t explain it to your friends? It’s that feeling of “I’m describing this so poorly it’s gonna make you not wanna see it”? That’s the feeling I’ve had sitting on this review for the past week.
This movie is good. Really damn good. There’s a moment in it towards the end, where the main character breaks down crying because he just can’t catch a break and I feel that to my core.
Really, I do.
In fact, this whole movie is just a series of bad choices made by an individual who just wants to win big in his life. Sure, he’s got problems – he’s a gambling addict to start – but the core ideology of “ALL I WANT IS WIN” is so relatable that DJ Khaled and T Pain made a song about it a decade ago and it still slaps.
However, the main character, Howard Ratner, isn’t immediately relatable, because at the surface, he’s rich, has a big loving family (mostly), and he lives in New York City. The average person might only get TWO of those THREE things in their lifetime. You would think a man like that wouldn’t want to risk much of anything in his life, because he already has it all. But for Howard, that’s not enough. He seeks fulfillment.
As a gambling man, Howard likes to bet on the actions of others, bet on himself, and bet his own luck to get him through life. And that is exactly what he does when Kevin Garnett walks through the doors of his jewelry shop in New York’s Diamond District. Kevin -who plays himself brilliantly- walks out of the Howard’s shop with a precious Ethiopian black opal… and doesn’t come back with it. Leading Howard on a chase for his stone, with all of his loan sharks in hot pursuit.
From there on, his life spirals out of control, and the layers of his character and addiction get revealed. And it turns out, Howard isn’t so rich… he’s in debt up to his crooked smile because he owes money to several dangerous and not so dangerous millionaire’s around town. His family isn’t so loving, his wife hates his guts and his kids are exhibiting the worst parts of his own personality. And he doesn’t even live in the city, his house sits outside the concrete jungle, and the loan sharks know where he lives.
Howard’s life is something most ambitious people can connect to in some way. Everytime he gets a leg up, rather than go home, pay his debts and count his blessings, he gets back in the field and risks it all.
Because one win isn’t enough. You have to keep winning.
Personally, I feel that same drive, and just like Howard, I’m not so lucky.
I don’t want to spoil the story, there really isn’t much plot to begin with, but it’s endearing to watch a man get rich or die trying. 50 Cent would be proud.
The cinematography is solid. Saturated colors, film grain, and neon husk are plenty. The casting is wonderful. Adam Sandler makes a believable Howard Ratner. Lakeith Stanfield shines as street smart jewel canvasser. Idina Menzel carefully oozes her hatred for Howard as his wife. And Julia Fox is
thicker than the three bears’ porridge seductive and sleazy but somehow fun to root for as Howard’s mistress. But the real star of the show is Kevin Garnett, who shines as himself in every scene he’s in.
From the godfather inspired art poster to the fast cut trailers featuring nightlife and diamonds, everything about this movie screams “I’m edgy and real and deserve to be a classic”, including the dialogue. And it’s all very solid. But it’s Howard’s addiction to the American Dream that makes this movie special. And for that reason alone, Uncut Gems mostly makes the cut.
-Julia Fox is married, but most marriages end in divorce. So hey, I still have a shot!
-Ladies, The Weeknd is in this and he does his thing. Just sayin!