Home » Uncut Gems review – A Horrific Incoherent Mess | London Film Festival 2019

Uncut Gems review – A Horrific Incoherent Mess | London Film Festival 2019

by Ben Rolph

The closest example of such a film that is as big of a complete mess as this is that of last year’s Sorry to Bother You, that’s my closest comparison to the utterly incoherent mess that is this soulless and artificial Scorsese rip.

Cashing in on a the New York setting, Uncut Gems takes the constant-talking archetype to another level, but not an elevated one. In fact, it comes across as a poorly directed attempt to create deeper psychological meaning in the constant harassment and struggle of one man’s life, yet it’s all hollow and completely flat-lines in trying to build tension through the non-stop chatter and noise.


Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is the owner of a showroom, based in the Diamond District in Manhatten, New York City. He is a gambler, a gambler like no other and this has an impact on his hectic New York life. A matter of multiple gambling schemes get Howard into trouble, he makes somewhat treacherous moves in betraying trust to earn for himself. Recently he came into knowing of a gem, a black opal. From an Ethiopian mine, of which he wishes to gain a truck load of money from.

Coming off of the success of Good Time, the Safdie brothers have delivered an absolute incoherent mess of a film. A film that made me consider getting up and leaving, due to the incomprehensible chopped-up nature of the edit. Some may say it’s for the purpose of tension, the constant bickering and noises, yet I never felt an ounce of tension. All that was felt was a hollow sludge pile of something trying to create meaning and a message under the guise of chaos, but it never works.


There are a few funny lines scattered throughout, that’s about all that works – Sandler is one-note and almost sketch-like. All he does is stumble around, talking non-stop and he never stops, he is a protagonist of no depth and is merely all surface layer. It’s a masculine-fueled macho ride of nothingness, adding to the terrible filmmaking craft on display is the sexualised view of its female characters. They are capitalised upon as objects and are nothing more than things to desire, there is no underlying message or meaning in subtext in the way they are viewed, if they intended anything they sure did fail.

Uncut Gems is an utterly incoherent mess, it’s one of the worst films I’ve seen in a long time. It tries to be tense, but fails due to the hollow nature of the film’s execution.

0.5/5 Stars

Ben Rolph

UNCUT GEMS premiered at TIFF 2019 and is playing at the BFI London Film Festival NOW



Joe October 11, 2019 || 7:03 pm - 7:03 pm

Imagine thinking this is one of the worst films of the year but giving raves to The Goldfinch and Gemini Man LOL

Ben Rolph October 18, 2019 || 6:58 am - 6:58 am

It’s not good. I didn’t rave about either of those, I liked them and didn’t like this.

Joe October 18, 2019 || 2:42 pm - 2:42 pm

You’re right, it’s not good, It’s great. Surreal how this is labeled an “artificial” Scorsese ripoff but a movie directed by Todd Phillips that copies King of Comedy and Taxi Driver gets a pass by you. Do you just associate movies set in NY with foul language as Scorsese ripoffs now?

Mike Roberts June 25, 2020 || 10:14 pm - 10:14 pm

It’s utter garbage. Drilling the viewer face into a sloppy mess of grinding noise and perpetual screeching by the actors for 2 hours is an insult to the viewer’s intelligence. Like a good song, a movie needs to have highs, lows, exciting denouements, a flow, etc., this is just a noisy mess. It’s like the grinding parts of Pi but 2 hours of them instead of just a minute. And the music was equally frustrating and out of place, from the opening forward. This crud might fly with the 19-24 year old set, but for those of us adults who have been watching movies a while – it is a complete train wreck.

Brendan Cadogan December 5, 2020 || 2:48 am - 2:48 am

If you cant argue your point without resorting to “if you like this you’re a child”, then dont bother giving your opinion, it’s not grounded in anything valuable. You may hate it, but resorting to emotive and unfounded comments rather than actual tangible criticism just highlights ignorance rather than intelligence. The movies aesthetic might not be for everyone but its certainly not a rip off of Scorsese, who has never attempted to make a film of such and contrasting colours, angles, shapes as Uncut Gems – a figurative prism through which the viewer sees a gambler chase dopamine highs without realising hes not seeing what everyone else is seeing – his own damnation.
It’s very effective and pioneering as a look and feel, nothing like Scorseses gangster or crime films, which highlight decadence, violence and madness in their camera work.

Steve B. October 14, 2019 || 12:53 am - 12:53 am

I couldn’t agree with you less. I saw this film Saturday night at the New York Film festival. The film received a rousing ovation at the end from a packed house… and I thought it was pretty incredible as well. Took me 2 hours after the film ended to recover from the sustainee adrenaline rush. it’s just a little over 24 hours since I saw the film and I still can’t stop thinking about it…. I predict major box office for this field… and major awards too…. Well at least nominations ????

Joe October 16, 2019 || 10:02 am - 10:02 am

Gotta love how you’re so cowardly that you can’t post any comments calling you out but panning a movie with artificial and one-dimensional criticisms, perfectly okay! Truly shows how low Rotten Tomatoes standards are these days!

Btw I know you’re seeing this comment 🙂

Van October 18, 2019 || 6:55 am - 6:55 am

You gave Gemini Man of all movies a glowing review but you absolutely hate this? This is beyond comedic.

Ben Rolph October 18, 2019 || 7:00 am - 7:00 am

I simply didn’t like this. Gemini Man just so happened to be better and I much preferred it. It’s called an opinion, you are allowed to have those… ????

Todd October 26, 2019 || 11:11 am - 11:11 am

this movie was absolutely incredible.

David November 25, 2019 || 9:41 am - 9:41 am

I see you’re going for the “give a nonsense score to get clicks” route. A film would have to be nearly unwatchable to recieve a 1/10.

Jim boonie December 1, 2019 || 1:44 am - 1:44 am

ur a wanker

Jack Macarthur December 10, 2019 || 3:50 pm - 3:50 pm

One of the worst reviews I’ve ever read: 0.1 out of 5 stars. Quite simply, this is a troll review designed simply to get clicks…it’s apparently working. 0.5 out of 5? Seriously? This is one of the worst movies ever made? You’re allowed to have an opinion, but wow is your opinion wrong here.

Jennifer December 22, 2019 || 4:14 pm - 4:14 pm

I actually left this movie for the reason you state: incoherent mess. I don’t get what people are raving about. I have a lot of patience but just couldn’t sit through this one.

PJ December 24, 2019 || 10:33 pm - 10:33 pm

I cannot believe you gave this a .5 Like holy shit man, that says so much.

Denise December 25, 2019 || 2:27 pm - 2:27 pm

Thank you! I agree 100%. I wish I would’ve read this review before I wasted my money & time. I don’t understand how this got rave reviews from others when this is 2+ hours of Adam Sandler screaming & dropping f-bombs after making one crappie decision after next. There’s no depth, it’s just people screaming with obnoxious music playing in the background. I felt the need to meditate during this movie, get my anxiety levels down. This is the worst movie I’ve seen in years.

zol February 5, 2020 || 5:50 am - 5:50 am

YES thank you! Well said, I thought the same thing. I watched a few minutes of it on Netflix and I thought oh my god! What a pile of crap!!!! I mean the music if u can call it that was just sooo horrible did they actually hire a composer?? I stoped watching it after 20minutes of boredom. I always thought that ALL reviews are pretty much bought these days Hollywood pretty much buys all the good so called ‘reviews’ weclome to the day s of influencers LOL. so sad.

Julie M. December 25, 2019 || 7:30 pm - 7:30 pm

I don’t get it. Adam Sandler did the best he could with the script, but it was boring and flat. Lots of chasing the gem around and getting chased by collectors. I love going to the movies and rarely feel that I wasted my time. But this film left me feeling robbed of my time and money. It seemed like a bait and switch, the previews and all the excellent reviews. I left wondering how in the world was anyone entertained?

amber December 28, 2019 || 3:36 pm - 3:36 pm

I kept waiting for something impactful to happen and it just kept going on with no connections with each story line. One of the VERY worst movies I have ever seen… I wonder how good actors get suckered into agreeing to such nonsense….Aloha!!!!

Bob December 29, 2019 || 2:36 pm - 2:36 pm

The movie was terrible. Joe in the comments feels like the characters in the film. A cartoony edification of a troll but without the slightest measurable weight of a soul.

Deborah Greenstein December 31, 2019 || 4:11 am - 4:11 am

The worst stereotypes paraded across a screaming, foul mouthed mess. A pointless film. I left hating Adam Sandler for participating in this total affront to Jews, especially in a world of ever increasing antisemitism.

Anna January 4, 2020 || 10:06 pm - 10:06 pm

100% AGREE WITH YOU BEN. This is by far one of THE WORST films we’ve ever watched. Wish we knew before we paid to see absolute misery. Like you, we wanted to get up and leave but we stayed with the hope something would turn out differently.
We didn’t even get bothered by the profane language but were quite exhausted by his constant lies, bad choices and deceit. Enough already for crying out loud!
A complete regret of a movie, it made us not like Adam Sandler as much. It seems he always is the same, loud and obnoxious… in this movie he was magnified x 100.
It gave us a headache, and of course the end…
Everyone at the theater said: ”Is this it? You gotta be kidding. F*** this movie”

Film January 4, 2020 || 10:14 pm - 10:14 pm

Also, you were too generous with the whopping 0.5/5
We give it a 0/5 + ????????
Can’t believe this piece of waste made it to the theater.
Can’t wait to see the new coming reviews expressed by real audiences vs paid critics.

Daniel O Pupek January 9, 2020 || 9:03 pm - 9:03 pm

100% Agree with the review! My wife and I, as well as others, walk out of the theater with headaches. I get it, the movie had a message but it was it also had not one character I cared about. Every person was one dimensional. An example of a movie that actually employs chaotic tension properly is Jacob’s Ladder.

Kevin Clark January 13, 2020 || 2:29 am - 2:29 am

Adam Sandler absolutely killed it. And that is the only notable quality of this movie. Without Sandler this movie would have never been published. The story is incredibly interesting however they fail to achieve a clear picture and direction with ever scene. I felt that every scene was dragging on far too long. A 1 hour movie shot in 2 hours. I thought that they chose the most uninteresting parts of the story to focus on also. Apparently the directors we’re going for a very real and authentic look, meaning they wanted to make it look like reality and less like a movie, which I would definitely say they achieved. But that’s all they achieved in my opinion. Not a good film and a very forgettable one. Had potential to be much better. Would not recommend

Pamela January 13, 2020 || 9:45 pm - 9:45 pm

Completely agree. It is the worst movie I have ever seen. I left after an hour.

Federico February 2, 2020 || 7:31 pm - 7:31 pm

I wish I had seen this review before I watched this. Apparently I am part of a minority who absolutely despised this film. I was trying to watch something fun on Netflix at 2 am and now I can’t sleep. Whoever did this movie is horrible fucking people.

Matt April 7, 2020 || 4:44 pm - 4:44 pm

Both my wife and I immensely (and i can’t stress immensely enough) despised this movie. We only completed it in the hope it would at some point get better…..it did not! It was just continuous shouting and rambling throughout, with no true character relations or backstory’s . It was like watching a really awful version of ‘The Gambler’ (2014 – Mark Wahlberg), repeatedly making bad choices and making ridiculous bets and getting in deeper and deeper with the wrong people….. the only difference was it had the gem pursuit thrown in as an alternate story line to having Sandler casino gaming, and as the finale it had an opposing ending to ‘The Gambler’s main character (Wahlberg’s) outcome. Don’t waste your time folks, read these reviews, there is a couple who rave about it but the majority say the same…….. its a stressful, headache inducing 2 hours 15 mins of garbage. I’l be honest in saying that i NEVER review movies online or otherwise, but ‘Uncut Gems’ was so frustratingly terrible that i had to take the time to voice my opinion as i was left so bloomin frustrated!

Bets June 29, 2020 || 10:09 am - 10:09 am

I agree. This film was chaotic, tacky, and had no depth. There was Zero character development and women were mere, brainless objects. I also kept waiting for something to happen but it kept falling short.
Aaaaand I don’t want to watch people having sex, but I definitely don’t want to watch Adam Sandler having sex. ???? I dare Hollywood to stop putting graphic sex scenes in film.

Jeff November 21, 2020 || 8:29 am - 8:29 am

The whole point of this film is to be chaotic. The main character is a disaster of a human being who lives an adrenaline filled disaster of a life. Some people just have no redeeming qualities. They live only for themselves. Adam Sandler completely owns this performance and this character and this movie is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. It’s not supposed to make you feel good. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable. There is no moral lesson here (Other than maybe don’t be like this guy).

Brian November 26, 2020 || 12:27 pm - 12:27 pm

Ok Im glad I wasn’t the only one who thought this movie was a mess. Music, character development, build-up, etc. was sloppy. I don’t see how it got great reviews. I could have just watched the last 20 minutes and be fine.

Khristian November 26, 2020 || 11:36 pm - 11:36 pm

Just watched this and your too much of a troll to even say a one thing about this movie.

AJ April 3, 2021 || 3:50 pm - 3:50 pm

Never in human history has anyone been so wrong as Ben Rolph has proven himself to be with this sorry attempt at a movie review. He is such a poor writer that he resorts to simply throwing the word “incoherent” around repeatedly, rather than providing any serious analysis of this remarkable film. His sad attempt at a “review” is far more incoherent than the film in question could ever be. The film’s plot is extremely straightforward and easy to follow, in fact. Does Ben even know what the word “incoherent” actually means?

At any rate, watching Uncut Gems is an absolutely riveting experience. This spellbinding film is, quite simply, the best movie I’ve seen in at least the past 5 years. Sandler and the Safdie brothers should have received Oscars for their fantastic work. The editing and the soundtrack were also phenomenal. The fact that this film received exactly zero Academy Award nominations is a clearer indicator of the Academy’s myopic stupidity than anything else I can think of.

5/5 stars, would highly recommend to anyone with a pulse and a brain.

Daniel Lopez April 18, 2021 || 3:59 pm - 3:59 pm

I gotta disagree with your opinion on this one Ben. I believe the reasons you dislike it are the exact reasons it was so great. Also, I found the Scorsese ripoff comment mean-spirited and unfair.

Dreadyisready May 28, 2021 || 8:18 am - 8:18 am

Ben I think you might have just come to this movie with expectations that were not met, you are right that people can have opinions but yours seems even more disconnected from public opinion than the margin of understanding would allow. I think you should give it another go and reconsider the movie for what it is, because this truly is a great film and story even if Sandlers usual products are in the comedy realm. I felt tense and genuinely stirred by the characters and story arc, I just think your review is way too harsh.

BigNickUK December 1, 2021 || 12:59 am - 12:59 am

Sorry to be so blunt but utterly clueless. This is a film which typifies genius. The story, performance, the editing, the cinematography, the soundtrack all is designed to create a stressful experience. Its an absolute masterclass and is one of my favourite films of all time

Dan October 25, 2022 || 6:48 pm - 6:48 pm

Terrible critique, poorly written and simply reads; I did no like it or connect with this film, therefore it must be crap. You have totally missed the intent of this picture and that is on you, not the film.

I don’t like Picasso but there is no denying his works are masterpieces.

This film is a masterwork. And deserves the high praise that it has received.

Yes it might be a be a difficult watch for some – it’s certainly not a film for everyone.

You seem lost on the idea of subjectivity, which is evident in your championing of lesser films.

For some perspective. Daniel Day Lewis personally called and congratulated Adam Sandler on both the film and his performance. Which says a lot about what you are missing. And for that you should hang up your keyboard. Or in the instance of this “crit” put down your phone!


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