It all started in 2009 when Benny and Josh Safdie had the inspiration to make a movie based on their father’s mentor in the 47th Street NYC diamond district. But Uncut Gems‘ delay has been worth the wait.
The A24 pic which opens limited on Dec. 13 follows Adam Sandler as a diamond district jeweler who comes in possession of some rare African stones, which he believe will bring him good luck. Such as his nature, he lives on the edge, over-gambling and getting into some very dangerous situations.
“Our dad who was a runner and a salesman who worked for an eccentric guy who was trying to constantly earn his place. They were mini-pulp stories, and absurdly funny,” said Josh Safdie.
Other projects got in the way of the brothers pursuit of the project which they co-wrote with their collaborator Ronald Bronstein. But it was through these projects, the filmmakers would improve upon their techniques, like pacing and speed in Good Time.
“We didn’t have the right to make this film ten years ago and were right to be turned by (Adam Sandler) twice,” added Josh Safdie.
The former SNL player’s comedic chops and timing was like a hand in a glove to the Safdies’ by-the-seat filmmaking. The duo recalled today how he memorized a monologue they wrote for him within ten minutes before filming.
During the course of writing Uncut Gems, the trio went through 160 drafts and at one point a 160 page screenplay.
Bringing further nuance to Uncut Gems, the filmmakers employed real jewelers in the film. There’s a scene in the film where Sandler’s Howard Ratner enters an exchange to sell a prize ring.
Talking about that alchemy, Josh Safdie said “you have Adam who is raising his game because he wants to come off as a real jeweler, and then you have these guys who are nervous because they have to raise their game next to Sandler.”
Uncut Gems from A24 goes wide on Dec. 25