I hated Uncut Gems; it’s one of the greatest movies I’ve seen.

(Contains spoilers.)

It’s an odd arc for a movie to follow Goodness itself. Most stories teach us lessons by showing us a person: we match the Good parts of ourselves with this protagonist in the film. The Good parts undergo trials but ultimately prevail.

In this movie, however, bad behavior is punished. It’s the sort of movie that would answer the question “Is murder a sin?” with “Depends: who are we talkin’ about?”   

In uncut gems, the protagonist is Goodness, we follow the plot arc of Right, and Right, as it should, ultimately triumphs in the end. The vehicle for this lesson, however, is a sad sack of a meatbag: Adam Sandler watches a basketball game instead of tucking his son into bed; he explodes in anger instead of listening to his girlfriend; and he gambles with borrowed money instead of paying it back.

We empathize with the people around Adam Sandler: the three kids, the wife, the loan shark, the girlfriend. We even feel sorry for Sandler sometimes: He’s compulsive, but he’s right. We think, “I’m compulsive but right.” But Uncut Gems shows us: “Here’s where those two traits can lead you…”

So we’re oddly satisfied when Sandler’s big bet finally pays off… and is punctuated by him being shot in the head. “Those who gamble with others’ lives should pay with their own.

This movie does not merely show us how the world is; it describes how the world ought to be. Good should prevail while bad gets shot in the head, even if it’s that adorable goofball who starred in Happy Gilmore.

It’s not a pleasant film. You probably won’t enjoy it. Or you’ll enjoy it the way you enjoy going to the dentist and hearing stories about The Holocaust: it hurts but it’s ultimately good for you.

So process your trauma, overcome your compulsions, and watch Uncut Gems when you want something reeeeeeally intense.

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