Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems poster

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.

SHORT VERSION

Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a gambling addict and jewelry store owner in the Manhattan diamond district. He owes a lot of money to his brother-in-law Arno (Eric Bogosian), which is he is determined to get by selling a rare uncut opal. After a serious of ups and downs, he finally gets money for it – but decides to gamble it, sending his mistress Julia (Julia Fox) to the casino to bet it all and trapping Arno and his muscle Phil (Keith Williams Richards) in the store vestibule as they watch the game play out. He wins big, Julia leaves the casino with the money, and Howard excitedly lets the men out – Phil immediately shoots Howard in the face. Arno tried to flee and Phil kills him as well and robs the store.

MEDIUM VERSION

In 2010, an accident occurs at a mine operated by Ethiopian Jewish workers. During the commotion, two miners retrieve a rare and valuable black opal, leaving it embedded in a piece of rock.

In 2012, Howard Ratner runs a jewelry store in New York’s Diamond District while struggling to pay back gambling debts, particularly $100,000 to Arno, a loanshark who happens to be his brother-in-law. His domestic life is split between his employee and mistress Julia, and his estranged wife Dinah, who has agreed to divorce him after Passover. One day, Howard receives the rock containing the opal, which he plans to auction off at an estimated price of $1,000,000. Basketball player Kevin Garnett visits the shop and becomes obsessed with the opal, insisting on holding onto it for good luck at his game that night. Howard reluctantly agrees, but requests to keep his Celtics ring as collateral. Garnett agrees, and shortly after Howard pawns it and places a bet on Garnett’s game that night.

Howard wins the bet but is later ambushed at his daughter’s school play by Arno and his bodyguards, Phil and Nico. He is shocked to learn that Arno has placed a stop on the bet, as it was made with money owed to him. Phil and Nico then strip Howard naked and lock him in the trunk of his own car, forcing him to call Dinah for help. Howard hurries to retrieve the opal at a party hosted by The Weeknd and ends up getting into a fight with the singer after discovering him and Julia together in a bathroom. Howard chastises Julia and throws her out of his apartment despite her insistence that she remained faithful to him.

Garnett returns the opal and offers to purchase it, but Howard refuses given the substantially larger appraisal. Just before the auction starts, Howard is devastated to discover the opal has been appraised for significantly lower than his estimate. Desperate, he convinces his father in law, Gooey to bid on the gem to drive up the price, but this backfires when Garnett bows out early and Gooey wins. Arno, Phil, and Nico confront him outside the auction and proceed to punch him in the face and throw him into a fountain. Howard returns to his shop battered and emotionally broken, where Julia comforts him and the two repair their relationship. Immediately afterward Howard is informed that Garnett still wishes to purchase the opal.

The deal is completed, but instead of immediately paying off his debts, Howard becomes obsessed with betting on Garnett’s connection with the opal. He gives the money to Julia, instructing her to put it all on Garnett’s game that night. She boards a helicopter to Mohegan Sun, barely escaping Arno, Phil and Nico, who have come to collect. They become furious when they learn of the bet, but Howard locks them in the mantrap of the store as they try to leave and pursue Julia. He then frantically watches the game with his money on the line, with Arno and his muscle watching alongside. Ultimately Howard’s bet pays off, winning him over $1.2 million.

When a celebratory Howard releases the trio, a fed-up Phil immediately shoots him in the face. Horrified, Arno protests and tries to escape, but Phil shoots him in the head as well. An overjoyed Julia leaves Mohegan Sun with the winnings on her way back to Howard, unaware that he has been killed, while Phil and Nico loot the store as the deceased Howard lies bleeding on the floor.

LONG VERSION

The film opens with Ethiopian miners digging out an uncut black opal, and the camera pushes inside the rock to reveal the gem within.

In 2012, Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a Jewish man living in New York who makes his living with a store in the jewelry district. He’s also an extreme gambling addict who owes money to bookies all over town and keeps making new bets to cover the old bets and pawning collateral he’s been given to make more bets and then buy back the collateral. He’s extremely excited when he receives an uncut opal that he has worked to secure for months from a small Ethiopian Jewish mining community that he values at around one million dollars and is set to sell at a esteemed auction house. He avoids Phil (Keith Williams Richards), the muscle for Arno (Eric Bogosian) who is looking to collect on the debt Howard owes Arno, believing once he sells the opal at the auction he can pay him back.

Meanwhile, Demany (Lakeith Stanfield), who brings business and fake watches to Howard for a cut of the profit, bring Kevin Garnett (Kevin Garnett), the famous basketball player, into the store. Howard excitedly shows KG (as everyone refers to him) the opal he has just received, and Kevin, who takes a huge liking to it, wants to take it with him for good luck for his game. Howard reluctantly lets him take it, but takes KG’s championship ring as collateral. Howard immediately sells the ring to a pawn shop to make a huge bet on KG’s game that night, planning to buy it back with his winnings.

Howard’s mistress, Julia (Julia Fox), works at the jewelry store and lives in his New York city apartment, but at home outside the city his wife Dinah (Idina Menzel) and three kids live a suburban life. Dinah is fed up with Howard’s behavior and him never being there for the kids, and plans on telling the kids that they’re getting divorced after Passover. Instead of spending time with his kids, Howard watches the basketball game, which he wins the bet on, then goes into the city to sleep with Julia. When Howard is supposed to drop the opal off at the auction house, Demany arrives without it, saying KG wanted to keep it for his next game. Howard demands to go to KG and get it, so they drive two hours to where the away game is taking place. Demany goes into the locker room but leaves Howard outside, and he is forced to take a bus back to the city, furious.

At Howard’s daughter’s school play, he sees Phil sitting several rows behind him. He asks Phil to meet him in the hallway, and then makes a run for it – but he is caught and dragged into the back of the SUV that Arno is in. They take his watch and clothes, and Howard tells Arno that he won a huge bet and can pay him back now – but Arno reveals that he didn’t like Howard making bets with money that was owed to him and then he put a stop on the bet. Howard is devastated, and Phil locks Howard into the truck of his car naked. He is forced to call Dinah to run out of the middle of the play and let him out, disgusting her.

Demany finally calls Howard to tell him he has the opal, and Howard asks him to meet him at a show for up-and-coming artist The Weeknd (The Weeknd), who is friendly with Julia. Howard goes all the way back into the city but Demany tells Howard he doesn’t have it and to chill, infuriating Howard. Julia and The Weeknd do drugs in the bathroom, and The Weeknd wants to have sex but Julia tells him no touching. Howard discovers they are in the bathroom together and assaults The Weeknd, getting him and Julia thrown out of the club. They get into a huge screaming match – Julia tells him he blew a huge sale for her, and he accuses her of cheating. She insists she didn’t, but he tells her to be out of the apartment.

Howard’s extended family has Passover at Dinah’s father Gooey (Judd Hirsch)’s place, where it is revealed that Arno is actually Dinah’s sister’s husband, leading to some tension, but Howard happily tells Gooey (and Arno) about the opal, implying to Arno that once it sells for a million he will be paid. Having broken up with Julia, Howard goes to Dinah and tells her they should reconsider the divorce and he’s sorry for having an affair. She laughs and tells him she wishes she could never see him again. Julia sends Howard a Craig’s List link listing the apartment, so he insists on stopping at the apartment on the way out of the city. His son wants to use the bathroom, so Howard (at Dinah’s insistence) brings him upstairs but asks him to use a neighbor’s bathroom so he won’t see Julia – however, he finds that Julia has indeed left her keys and a note. Howard’s son, however, asks him who the hot woman living in the apartment is since the neighbor told him about it. Howard tells him never to bring it up, and his son looks at him, disillusioned.

KG finally brings the opal back, offering Howard 175 thousand in cash for it, but Howard tells him it will sell for one million at auction and he can’t accept KG’s offer and tells him to bid on it himself. Howard doesn’t have KG’s ring, having pawned it – KG is furious but leaves, sick of Howard. Howard rushes the opal to the auction house who have been calling him demanding the item. On the auction day, however, Howard is furious to see the auction house appraisal puts the opal closer to 100-200 thousand, nowhere near a million. KG has arrived to bid on it himself, and since the price has been lowered, Howard begs Gooey to bid against KG to drive up the price, promising him he won’t have to pay for it. Gooey and KG go back and forth, and Howard encourages Gooey to get the price up to 200 thousand – but KG bows out just before that. Howard is horrified – he tells Gooey he will pay him back once he is paid out, and now owes Gooey the money the auction house took out. Arno witnesses everything, and confronts Howard outside. Phil gives Howard a good beating and throws him into a fountain.

Howard returns to his office, bloody, wet, and devastated. Demany shows up, angry that Howard didn’t take KG’s cash offer, and finds that Howard has apparently been selling all the fake watches he gave him without any cut (he’d been giving them out to try to pay his gambling debts). Demary leaves, through with Howard, dumping juice into his fish tank. Julia goes into the back office and finds Howard sobbing, and she shows him her new tattoo of his name on her butt to try to cheer him up. Howard gets a phone call that KG is willing to pay cash for the opal (which Gooey gave to him), and Howard rejoices, having caught a break. He trades his last prized possession, another championship ring, to get KG’s ring back from the pawn shop.

KG arrives and gives him the cash for the opal, but chews him out over the way he used the African miners and made a profit off of them. Howard compares it to KG, who doesn’t play to break even, and plays to win. He shows KG the gambling odds for his game tonight and pumps him up, getting him ready to destroy the other team – and high off the interaction, Howard decides to bet all the cash KG gave him (175 thousand minus Demany’s 6000 dollar cut) on KG’s game that night – but since Arno and Phil are in the lobby, waiting for their cut of the KG cash, Howard has Julia go to an office next door and hands her the money out of the window and buys her a helicopter ticket directly to the casino.

Arno and Phil enter Harold’s office, finding the money gone. They send a goon to the casino after Julia, and interrogate Howard further. Realizing he doesn’t have the money, they try to leave, but Howard locks them in the security vestibule using the magnetic locks. He promises them excitedly they’re about to win big, and puts on the game. Phil pulls a gun and threatens to shoot his way out, but Howard assures him the glass is bulletproof and it would only hurt them. Phil makes an ominous phone call, and Howard calls Dinah and tells her to take the kids and go to her sister’s. Julia makes Howard’s bet at the casino while hiding from the goon, and everyone tensely watches the game play out. Howard’s bet actually pays off, winning over a million dollars.

Overjoyed, he calls Julia and tells her they’re going to live the high life. Knowing he can pay them their money, Howard happily lets Arno and Phil our of the vestibule, and Phil immediately shoots Howard in the face, killing him. Arno is horrified, and Phil and his cohort immediately begun robbing the shop of every piece of jewelry. Arno tries to flee, and Phil shoots him too. Julia leaves the casino with the money, Dinah decides to call the police, and Howard bleeds out on the floor. The camera pushes inside Howard to find the uncut gem within.

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