Director: The Safdie Brothers
This is latest film from the Safdie Brothers about whom I have to say I knew nothing before this. It’s in the cinemas but also available on Netflix which is how we watched it last night. There’s been generally really top reviews but having seen the trailer in the cinema the other week I was unsure as to whether it was going to my cup of tea (to quote Spike Lee). So we strapped ourselves in and it was an absolute thrill ride.
The basic premise is that Howard Ratner (must be a pun) is both a jeweler and compulsive gambler – possibly not a good combination you would think and so it proves. Without giving the plot away, the basic premise is that he procures a rare uncut opal from Africa which he is hoping to auction for a mighty profit but at the same time he is being hounded by several low lifes to whom he owes money.
The dialogue is basically people shouting and swearing at each other (the ‘fuck’ count was off the scale) with Howard generally having at least two conversations going on at the same time and with his phone (that never seemed to need charging?) permanently attached to his lughole. I suspect much of this must have been improvised – I cant imagine how it could have been fully scripted.
This is an absolute powerhouse performance by Adam Sandler whose early career started in a number of mainly forgettable comedies in the mid 90s. Of late though he has appeared in some more ‘grown up’ roles and was really good in the excellent ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’. Here he is a bundle of nervous energy, a man consumed by greed and with seemingly no redeeming qualities, hated by his family and permanently teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown for whole two and half hours but somehow never losing his optimism. The camera hardly ever leaves him and the film careers along like a celluloid heart attack.
We were exhausted at the end but you cant help but get carried along by the sheer momentum which just continues to build and build. There is also an unsettling electronic score which adds to the backdrop of panic and claustrophobia.
I cant think of what to compare this to but without doubt it is one of the cinematic events of recent times.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
I have no idea but certainly not early Adam Sandler comedies.