In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Uncut Gems, we will explain the film’s ending.
- Adam Sandler – Howard Ratner
- LaKeith Stanfield – Demany
- Julia Fox – Julia De Fiore
- Kevin Garnett – himself
- Idina Menzel – Dinah Ratner
- Eric Bogosian – Arno Moradian
- Judd Hirsch – Gooey
- Keith William Richards – Phil
- Mike Francesa – Gary
- Jonathan Aranbayev – Eddie Ratner
- Noa Fisher – Marcel Ratner
- Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye – himself
The end of Uncut Gems explained
In the climactic finale of Uncut Gems, Howard Ratner, a New York City jeweler, has just acquired an extremely valuable Ethiopian black opal, which he believes will solve all his financial problems. Howard is a chronic gambler and deeply in debt to several unsavory individuals, including his brother-in-law, Arno, and his two henchmen.
As the film reaches its conclusion, Howard comes up with a high-risk plan to erase his debts: he plans to auction the opal, but when the bid does not meet his expectations, he intercepts the sale and loans the stone to basketball player Kevin Garnett, who believes the opal brings him luck. Howard takes Garnett’s championship ring as collateral and, in a series of rapid, reckless decisions, pawns the ring to place a six-way parlay bet on Garnett’s performance in that night’s game.
Howard has trapped Arno and his henchmen, Phil and Nico, in the store’s security vestibule, forcing them to watch the game with him. As the game progresses, Howard’s risky bet pays off. Garnett performs exceptionally well, and all aspects of the bet come in. Howard’s win totals over a million dollars, which would clear his debt with Arno and provide him with a significant profit.
However, the tension in the trapped space has been escalating. As soon as Howard releases the security lock, Phil, one of Arno’s henchmen, shoots Howard in the face, killing him instantly. He then shoots and kills Arno. Phil and Nico then ransack the jewelry store, stealing everything of value. They kill several other people in their brutal spree, leaving behind a scene of bloody chaos.
As the film ends, the camera pans into the bullet wound on Howard’s face, which transitions into a psychedelic journey through the cosmos, then into the opal itself, full of radiant colors and bizarre, abstract formations, ultimately bringing the viewers back to the ethereal and chaotic world that Howard had seen in the gem.
The Allure of the American Dream
The end of Uncut Gems is not just the termination of Howard’s life. It’s the culmination of the film’s most central theme: the relentless pursuit of the American Dream. This closure serves as a larger commentary on the perils of unchecked ambition, the destructive allure of materialism, and the volatile relationship between risk and reward.
The film’s final act is a culmination of Howard’s mounting debts, personal betrayals, and hazardous gambling addiction. When he places the ultimate bet using the uncut gem, he attempts to manifest his dreams into reality, believing that this single act of supreme risk-taking will absolve him of his past mistakes and lead him to becoming rich. This pivotal scene embodies the theme of the American Dream: risk-taking and the pursuit of monety. But it also highlights its inherent dangers.
Howard’s demise underscores the destructive path he had chosen. The dream of wealth and success, which he believed would justify his reckless behavior, ultimately leads him to his tragic end. His death embodies the movie’s recurring theme of the risks and perils associated with unchecked aspiration and materiality. This fatalistic conclusion reinforces the message that an uncontrolled desire for material success, at the expense of personal relationships and ethical boundaries, can have disastrous consequences.
The uncut gem (the film’s central motif), which Howard believes holds the key to his success, symbolizes the illusion financial security and the destructive power of greed. The gem mesmerizes Howard and others who come in contact with it, much like the seductive allure of easy money and instant success. The fatal fascination with the gem and the disastrous consequences it brings reflect the dangerous allure of materialism and the destructive effects of unchecked greed.
Moreover, the ending explores the theme of risk and reward. Howard’s compulsive gambling and risk-taking behavior, which lead him to place a high-stakes bet with the uncut gem, serve as a metaphor for the high-risk, high-reward nature of American capitalism. His ultimate downfall, despite winning his final gamble, underlines the volatile and unpredictable nature of such risk-taking endeavors.
Howard’s personal relationships, which are gradually eroded by his reckless behavior, further deepen the tragic resonance of the ending. His inability to salvage his relationship with his family and his betrayal by his mistress—two individuals who stood by him despite his flaws—emphasize the damaging effects of rampant greed on your personal life. This is a potent reminder that the pursuit of material wealth, when prioritized over relationships, can lead to isolation and ruin.
Through Howard’s tragic fate, the film underscores the dangers of an uncontrolled desire for material success and the destructive power of greed. The film does not merely chronicle Howard’s journey but offers a cautionary tale about the perils of the relentless pursuit of the American Dream. The ending is a stark reminder that material success, when pursued at the expense of personal relationships and ethical boundaries, can lead to devastating consequences.
The Final Shot Explained
The final shot of Uncut Gems is a powerful and emblematic closing statement that brings clarity to the title of the film. The camera, in its last movement, dives into Howard’s bullet wound, transitioning from the gore of his untimely end to an ethereal journey through the cosmos, eventually concluding in the black, unending void of space. This cosmic voyage is a direct callback to the movie’s opening shot where the camera delves into the uncut gem, taking the viewer on a similar trip through a galaxy of brilliant colors and structures, suggesting an infinite universe within the gem itself.
This cyclical narrative device, beginning and ending with a similar shot, provides a profound commentary on the film’s themes. The uncut gem, both at the start and end, symbolizes Howard’s dreams, aspirations, and the tantalizing promise of wealth. The initial shot represents the allure of these dreams, the breathtaking and infinite possibilities they hold. Yet, the final shot into Howard’s mortal wound suggests the ultimate price he pays for his relentless pursuit of these dreams. His life becomes as expansive and as finite as the universe within the gem, reflecting the vast potential and the inevitable limitations of human ambition.
Moreover, the parallel shots underline the inherent paradox of the human condition—the simultaneous insignificance and grandeur of individual lives. The gem’s internal universe mirrors the cosmos within Howard’s body, suggesting that each human life, much like the gem, contains multitudes. Yet, Howard’s tragic end underscores the fragility and fleeting nature of life, underlining the transient nature of human existence in the vast cosmic scheme.
These mirrored shots, beginning and ending with a journey into an expansive universe, effectively encapsulate the film’s exploration of capitalism. They reinforce the movie’s core message that unbridled enthusiasm for material things can lead to ruin, echoing the timeless serves as a potent reminder of the potential consequences of unchecked greed.
In a more abstract sense, the initial and final shots also illustrate the concept of cyclical time and the eternal recurrence of similar patterns. This could be seen as a critique of the self-destructive cycle of consumerism and materialism inherent in modern society. Howard’s journey is a microcosm of this societal pattern—his life is consumed by a constant chase for more, for better, for richer, never finding satisfaction in his current state. The return to a similar shot at the end suggests the continuance of this cycle, even after Howard’s tragic end.
The interplay between the macrocosm and the microcosm in these shots, from the infinite cosmos to the individual’s internal universe, is a powerful cinematic tool used to reflect Howard’s journey. The visual grandeur and infinite depth of these shots underscore the magnitude of Howard’s dreams and the profoundness of his downfall. They serve as visual metaphors for the grandiosity of his ambition and the depth of his tragedy.
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