WHAT I LIKED: The sole purpose of The Safdie Brothers' first feature 'Good Time,' was to build atmosphere to make its audience feel as stressed as humanly possible, and that's exactly what their latest film 'Uncut Gems,' is about too.
With a film like this, all that's keeping your eyes on the screen is the sensation brought by the claustrophobia of the filmmaking and the in-the-moment plight of the characters. There's no time to think about or build any empathetic connection to anyone or anything; it's just relentless atmosphere and the raw power of cinema working its magic. Here that works because, yet again, there's a very convincing set of performances (this time namely from the central Adam Sandler) and because the Safdies' camera crucially clings and sweeps around such unbelievably authentic and stressful situations where desparate people chaotically talk and shout over each other in pursuit of whatever selfish, momentary riches they can find.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: That primal, in-the-moment engagement is slightly less powerful when everyone on screen is so repulsive, and that becomes more of an issue in those few moments where the pace does relax and we're asked to engage in the characters' interpersonal goings on.
VERDICT: 'Uncut Gems,' is another very simple film from the Safdie Brothers that showcases the raw power of relentlessly brilliant, atmospheric filmmaking and performances over any kind of serious empathy or thought.