In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Uncut Gems, we talk about themes that help us understand the film.
- 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 themes and meaning of Uncut Gems
The Relentless Pursuit of Wealth
The relentless pursuit of wealth is a central theme in Uncut Gems, permeating the narrative with a profound sense of ambition and desperation. Howard, a New York City jeweler, seeks wealth not merely as a means to an end but as an end in itself. He associates wealth with success, prestige, and personal validation, fueling his incessant drive to acquire more. His desires are material, but they also reflect his deep-seated need for social recognition and acceptance.
One pivotal symbol of this pursuit is the black opal, a rare and valuable gemstone (the most important motif in Uncut Gems, and the basis for the film’s symbolic title) that Howard hopes to sell at auction for a substantial profit. The opal is more than a precious stone—it embodies his dreams and aspirations, representing an opportunity to catapult himself into the stratosphere of financial success and social prestige. This is reflected in the way he handles the stone with reverence and excitement, viewing it as a ticket to a better life.
But Howard’s pursuit is not without its pitfalls. His obsession with wealth leads him to make reckless decisions, take unnecessary risks, and neglect his personal relationships. He places high-stakes bets and brokers risky deals, all in the name of potential financial gain. This relentless pursuit reveals his vulnerability and insecurity, as he desperately clings to the notion that wealth will solve his problems and validate his worth.
The Destructive Nature of Addiction
Uncut Gems also explores the destructive nature of addiction, particularly gambling. Howard’s compulsive gambling is not a mere habit—it’s a relentless compulsion that gradually takes over his life. He is dependent not only to the thrill of winning but also to the rush of danger and the seductive allure of potential victory.
This addiction is vividly portrayed when he places a colossal bet on a basketball game, using the money he obtained from selling the opal. Instead of using the funds to pay off his escalating debts and secure a safer future, he succumbs to his vices, further entangling himself in a web of financial and personal crises. This self-destructive behavior highlights the power of obsession and its capacity to distort judgment and priorities.
Howard’s addiction also has ripple effects on those around him. His loved ones and associates are often drawn into the chaos of his dependency, dealing with the fallout of his reckless decisions. The film vividly illustrates the destructive nature of addiction, not just for the individual struggling with the compulsion but also for the people in their life.
The Illusion of Control
The third major theme in Uncut Gems is the illusion of control. Howard operates under the assumption that he can navigate the outcomes of his bets, manipulate the people around him, and dictate his own destiny. This illusion is both his motivation and his downfall.
One key scene that exemplifies this theme is when he traps his creditors in his store’s security vestibule. In this moment, he attempts to assert dominance in a situation where he is actually a pawn in a much larger game. His belief in his own command is so strong that he puts himself and others in harm’s way, convinced he can navigate the consequences. However, the illusion is shattered in the film’s climactic scene. The stark reality of his powerlessness comes crashing down, culminating in a tragic denouement that underscores the dangerous delusion of control. Howard’s belief in his own power blinds him to the realities of his situation, leading him down a path of self-destruction.
In Uncut Gems, this illusion is intricately linked with the other themes. Howard’s pursuit of wealth and his gambling addiction both stem from his belief in his own ability to predict outcomes. His drive for financial success, his reckless bets, and his manipulation of others all showcase his misguided belief in his ability to shape his destiny. This delusion of control ultimately exacerbates the consequences of his actions, leading to a series of increasingly dire situations. In the end, Howard’s inability to recognize and confront his limitations becomes a crucial factor in his downfall (as signified by the movie’s symbolic ending). The film serves as a cautionary tale about the perils of overconfidence and self-delusion in the face of uncontrollable forces.
Share Your Opinions
Do you have additional insights regarding the themes and meaning that you believe should be incorporated into the Colossus Movie Guide for Uncut Gems? Leave your comments below, and we may include your suggestions in our comprehensive guide.
Write a response