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Leonardo Myers
Leonardo Myers

Uncut Gems

So sobs Howard, the adrenaline-junkie diamond dealer gambling addict played by Adam Sandler in "Uncut Gems." Taking place over the course of a couple of days, "Uncut Gems," directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, hurtles along a narrow track over a yawning abyss, following Howard as he attempts to pay down his huge gambling debts by, of course, placing increasingly risky bets. There's the hope that once he pays it all off, he'll wipe the slate clean, and repair some of the bridges he's burned. But everyone around Howard knows this is a fantasy. His addiction is too entrenched. The dazzle of the "uncut gems" in the title is not a surface shine. It glows at the center of the earth, it burns in Howard's core.

Uncut Gems

It makes sense, then, that "Uncut Gems" would start with a sequence where the camera goes inside a black opal (dug out of the Welo opal mines in northern Ethiopia) which then morphs into the inside of a human colon. The colon of Howard, to be exact, as he endures a colonoscopy. The images on the hospital monitor look similar to the fantastical space of the opal's innards, its curves and layers. This is metaphor writ so large it's brazen, a theme hammered home with refreshing rhetorical candor. The opal is inside Howard, his need for it comes from the basest part of him. He lives in a state of "gold sickness" or "dragon sickness" (so vividly described by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Hobbit), the hypnotic power of gems luring men into madness since the beginning of time, seeking pirate's gold, El Dorado, the Holy Grail, on doomed colonialist adventures. Howard's black opal is the same as any long-besought gem: it emanates a magical pull on all who look upon it. Its power is almost wholly symbolic. 041b061a72


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