Uncut Gems (2019)

Directed by Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie

A charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.

The most exhausting film I've seen in years. The cinematic equivalent of four cups of double espresso, I didn't even bother even trying to sleep after downing Uncut Gems late one night. Directed by the two Safdie Brothers, it often felt like I was watching two films that had been made at the same time. Or do I mean two films at 2X speed?

Whatever clumsy metaphor you choose to adopt, however, the unavoidable effect of the film's finely-tuned chaos is an uncompromising and anxiety-inducing piece of cinema. The plot follows Howard as a man lost to his countless vices -- mostly gambling with adultery as a significant side hustle, but you get the impression he would like anything at all that might give him another high. A true junkie's junkie, you might say. You know right from the beginning it's going to end in some kind of disaster, the only question remaining is precisely what.

Portrayed by an (almost unrecognisable) Adam Sandler, there's an uncanny distance in the emotional chasm between 'Sandler-as-junkie' and 'Sandler-as-star-of-goofy-comedies'. Yet instead of distracting from and reducing the film's affect, this intertextuality somehow adds to the finely controlled mayhem. My heart races just at the memory.