This movie can be best described as Uncut Gems Lite. The opening sequence may start a little slow but you can feel the momentum pick up and up until the real premise of the movie begins. Basically you get the basis for the main characters of the plot within the first 4 minutes. Nikolas “Nick” and Constantine “Connie” Nikas are brothers that were raised by their grandmother (an unimportant yet oddly important detail). Nick has a mental impediment and is initially seen taking a test with a psychiatrist presumably to see where he fits on the spectrum. Connie interrupts and they share a scene where you can tell how much he cares for his brother, but the very next scene has the two attempting to rob a bank. Rather odd back-to-back scenes about how much Connie cares for his brother but then immediately makes him his accomplice. As they try to get away, obviously not everything goes to plan and Nick ends up getting arrested while Connie gets away. This is where the movie really starts - and the Safdie brothers agree since they put the title credits here as well. Now the plot pivots to Connie trying to get his brother Nick out of prison without him himself getting brought in. Initially he tries to do so by attempting to bail him out and then progressing to more severe actions to be reunited with his brother. They made Connie and the subsequently introduced characters really interestingly intertwined. Everyone loves a controversial protagonist right? You might disagree with many actions taken by Connie but then you remember (almost) everything he does is to help his brother. The acting was great in my opinion. Robert Pattinson was indistinguishable from his character, Connie. Everyone knew Pattinson knew how to brood well. But now we know he can do it with purpose. I’m kidding, I think he really played the character great. Jennifer Jason Leigh does a great job for the 15 min she’s in the movie as the coked out girlfriend, or as Connie sees her, the bank account. Taliah Webster as Crystal was also really great, especially at her age. She plays a crucial role not only in the plot but in your opinion of Connie. Can’t say any more without ruining the movie so only keep reading if you’ve already seen it and want to hear some more of my thoughts on it! While watching the movie I would recommend keeping an eye on the cinematography, words that get used multiple times, and as a fun thing just try to predict what will happen and see how wrong you are.
Another thing to notice is how the music persists throughout the movie. There’s very little time in the movie without some form of the score in the background. It helps move the plot along but also makes you feel like you’re in a busy city.
Alright now that the plebs have left. Why the straight f*ck was Robert frickin Pattinson making out with Taliah Webster who was ~16 at the time of shooting!! And how come no one cares????? And that was just like ‘ok makes sense he needed to distract her’? There were like 39857398 other things that could happen. That was lazy writing honestly and just gross and painful to watch.
Secondly, if Connie was really concerned for how his brother was doing in prison, he could’ve turned himself in. He could’ve been in there to protect him. But I get it.
Okay got that out.
One thing that stood out to me when you think about the entirety of the movie is that it always feels like Connie himself is always in tight spaces. Like very literally in every scene he’s in a small room. Which is an obvious metaphor for his situation. But more than that, in between many scenes they have a shot of whatever transportation he’s in (bus, car, cab) that is from a bird’s eye perspective. Which shows how much space is actually around him and how he puts himself in the tight situations in the first place. While watching it’s hard not to feel claustrophobic as you see Connie trying to achieve his goals. It reminds you that his problem is his entire world at the moment, and the cinematography reminds you that the city and the real world is actually much larger.
The addition of the cruelty from the random stranger that entered Connie’s life, Ray, to the security guard felt a little out of place. It was at that moment there was a turn in the story line. After the violence to the security guard, they ditched Crystal and let her go in the back of the police car like she was nothing. And then the quick scene of violence at the home of the security guard took place. We knew there was something weird about Connie saying he thought he was a dog in another life but it foreshadowed him basically being briefly saved by being a puppy whisperer and having him attack Ray at the right time so he could get away with the acid. I’m glad that Connie was caught instead of killed after all of this. And that he is put where he should have been from the very beginning and his brother is where he was supposed to be. Basically if Connie had let his brother finish that initial meeting from the first minute of the movie then Connie could be chilling with Corey in Cabo.
The last thing I wanted to mention is the little eye cut at the end. When they zoom into Connie’s eyes and then out of Nick’s (Easter egg where it says director in the corner of that shot). I’m not saying they got a lot of inspiration from Scorsese (which I said point blank in my uncut gem review) but I’ll just drop this ending still from Taxi Driver and let you decide:
All in all, I enjoyed the movie. I was captivated. I liked all the characters. I made a lot of guesses about which direction the movie would go and I was only right 50% of the time. It was softer than I thought it would be, which I like. I would recommend it to a friend.