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Uncut Gems: Rat, meet maze

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The Safdie Brothers' anxiety-riddled Uncut Gems is a film about escape; a film about an indebted gambler scheming against all the odds that not only will he weasel his way out of another corner, but that he'll do it a little bit richer.

Howie Ratner, vividly realised in a powerhouse performance from Adam Sandler, is a fascinating character in how he challenges your empathy. He unravels and fractures at a rate of knots and every one of the rock bottoms he hits is entirely his own doing. And yet you hope upon hope that he can buy himself more time with more lies and more excuses. He's the hero of a modern day Greek tragedy, a man flying too close to the sun with wings made of other people's money.

Josh and Benny Safdie have proven that their frenetic and electrifying style of direction, as established in 2017's Good Time, is soon to become a hallmark of the duo. Every shot pulses with adrenaline and every neon light burns a hot streak through grainy film. It's difficult to imagine the ballad of Howie Ratner being shot, edited or sounding any other way. The oil and blackheads of a man's face are captured with the same love as a director might frame a warm and rolling countryside. The Safdie brothers want filth to meet beauty on even footing, grime to allure like sheen.

Uncut Gems is a film that refuses to weaken its chokehold on you, from the moment it begins all the way until its heart-pounding climax. If a thing makes you feel something, it is art. For a film like this to inspire such dread, anxiety, stress and excitement, perhaps it's a masterpiece.

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