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You like to win, right? this is no different than that, I'm not a f*cking athlete, this is me, this is my f*cking way, this is how I win
~ Howard to Kevin Garnett
This is me, this is how i win.
~ Howard's most famous quote


Howard Ratner is the anti-villainous protagonist of 2019 American crime thriller film directed by the Safdie Brothers, Uncut Gems. He is a greedy jeweler from New York's diamond district addicted to gambling who has various debts, mainly with local loan shark, Arno, he constantly pawns his clients collaterals to pay the debts.

He was portrayed by Adam Sandler in his first villanous role.

Uncut Gems

Howard

In 2012 Howard recieves a dark opal embedded on a rock, an uncut gem, discovered in 2010 by ethiopian miners, it arrives to his jewelry shop, KMH Gems & Jewelry hidden on a cooler with fish, the same day, Phil and Nico, bodyguards of loan shark, Arno (whom Howard owes money to), appear on his shop to collect the money, Howard offers them water, Phil refuses but Howard derves it to them anyways, causing Phil to slap him across the face in front of his employees and customers. Then they take Howard's money he just picked up from a pawn shop and his watch.

Howard and K.G.

Howard calls Arno angry at him claiming to discount the "expensive" water from the debt, he also is having an affair with an irresposible employee of him, called Julia, who lives in an apartment Howard's paying. Howard recieves a message from Demany, an associate of him who finds potential customers for him, that basketball player, Kevin Garnett will come to the shop, upon returning to the shop, he encounters Garnett's bodyguards arguing with Phil and Nico, hitting Nico in the head, Howard interferes and Phil thinking they were hired by Howard, gives him a death threat before leaving. Howard meets with Garnett and shows him around the store, finally he decides to show the opal to him, Garnett becomes immediately obssessed with the gem and feels it like an amulet, Howard asks for a million dollars for it, Kevin is unable to pay that and asks Howard to lend it to him so it'll bring him luck on that night's game, Howard reluctantly agrees and takes Kevin's championship ring as collateral. Howard pawns the ring right after Kevin leaves, as he's unaware of being followed by Phil and Nico he sends a picture of the money to Arno, claiming it's his, then he gambles the money on Kevin's game.

The Bet Hits.

Howard, unable to watch the game at home due to his estranged wife, Dinah, goes visit Julia, on the way he gets the game results on his phone, realizing he has won, he celebrates with Julia. The day after, Howard is planning on auctioning the opal but Demany informs Howard that Kevin wishes to keep the opal longer, Howard demands Demany to take him to Kevin. Once on the training court, Howard gets distracted and Demany leaves him to talk to Kevin, Howard is unable to access due to security.

That night Howard assists to his older daughter's school play, where he's ambushed by Arno's thugs, Howard manages to escape from them but is later captured by them and taken to Arno, he asks for the money and Howard claims he's bankrupt, knowing this isn't true, Arno shows him th picture Howard sent of the money, Howard tries to explain his plan of betting the money, but Arno tells him he put a stop on the bet, since it was made with his money and now Howard has till monday to pay him, then they strp Howard naked and lock him in the trunk of his own car, Howard calls Dinah and she rescues him.

"F*ck You Howard"

Howard talks to Demany who tells him he has the gem and agrees to meet him at a party hosted by The Weeknd, an upcoming star at the moment, Howard arrives to the party and finds Demany, however Demany doesn't have the opal, after arguing with him, Howard spots Julia with The Weeknd, he later finds them together in a bathroom and Howard gets into a fight with the singer, he is kicked out of the club and Julia tries to convince him she remains loyal to him, Howard refuses to listen and kicks her out of the apartment.

The next day, Kevin returns to the shop with the gem and tells Howard he's willing to pay $175,000 Howard refuses and tells him he's auctioning it on monday. Kevin asks for his ring and Howard lies to him, Kevin leaves and Demany argues with Howard, he finds out that Howard has pawned Kevin's ring as well as his and other clients collaterals, before finally quiting. Howard is intercepted by Julia on his way out but Howard insists on her leaving the apartment and his life.

The Auction

Howard's family is celebrating Passover, a jewish holiday, here it is revealed that Arno is Howard's brother-in-law, Howard brags to Gooey, his wealthy father-in-law about the opal and the money it'll get him, Arno overhears this and becomes interested, Howard speaks with Dinah and she tells him she's ready to divorce him due to the hate she feels for him, when they leave, Howard takes his family to the apartment claiming that he needs to pick up some stuff, when in reality he has to confirm Julia no longer leaves there, however one of his sons wants to go to the bathroom, so he asks a neighbour to let him use his bathroom while he checks the apartment, after confirming Julia indeed left and picking up his son, he tells him that the neghbour talked to him about Julia.

The day of the auction Howard is informed that the gem was appraised in $150,000, desparate, he convinces Gooey to bid on the gem, convinced that Kevin will raise the price, Howard's plan backfires when Kevin bows out on $200,000 and Gooey actually wins, then Howard realizes Arno was at the auction with Phil and Nico, Gooey agrees on giving Howard the gem so he can sell it and pay him back. Howard speaks to Arno and fakes talking to Kevin on the phone, which only angers him even more, Howard insists and is beaten up by Phil and thrown into a fountain, where he loses his glasses, humilliated he returns to his shop and has an emotional breakdown, Julia comforts him and they fix their relationship.

Uncut Gems

Howard gets a call from Kevin's assistant, telling him that Kevin still wants the opal for $175,000, Howard seeing a new hope, recovers composure, calls Arno and recovers Kevin's ring, he gives it to him and they close the opal deal, talking with Kevin, he projects himself on Kevin and what the stats say about him on the court, Howard decides to bet the opal's money on Kevin's connection with the opal, he gives the money to Julia without Arno noticing and gives her instructions to go to the Mohegan Casino and bet it on Kevin's game, Kevin tries to reason with Howard but Howard is too keen on his plan, Kevin leaves and Arno confronts Howard, he tells him he has bet the money once again, Phil, sick with Howard's attitude aruges with him, Howard with a new found confidence, slaps Phil across the face, causing him to drag him to the window, Arno tries to stop him but Phil and Nico hang Howard from the window trying to make him call Julia, Howard agrees to do so, but feeling to confident on the bet, refuses to do it, Phil tired of the situation orders to leave and chase Julia themselves, half of the thugs leave but Howard traps Arno, Phil and Nico on the vestibule, inside the bulletproof glass box that connects the exit with the shop, Phil pulls a gun on him but convinces him not to shoot.

Julia has arrived on a helicopter property to Wayne a gambler friend of Howard to the casino and bets the money, Wayne takes a like on Julia and invites her to his suite, when Julia spots Arno's thugs, he accedes to go with him. Meanwhile Howard's watching the game, Phil makes a call and fearing for his kids, he calls Dinah and lies to her about a gas leak on the house and orders her to take their kids out of there. The game starts and surprisingly Howard wins, Howard calls Julia and tells her to pick up the money, Arno is truly surprised by this, Howard frees them but as soon as they leave the box, Phil shoots Howard in the face, killing him, Arno, horrified tries to escape but is also killed by Phil, he orders Nico to loot the shop, meanwhile Julia asked Wayne to pick the money for her to escape from Arno's thugs and prepares to return to Howard, unaware of his death, Dinah concerned that Howard may be in danger due to recent events, calls the police, the movie ends with Howard lying dead on the ground as Phil and Nico loot the shop and police sirens are heard in the distance, the camera zooms in Howard's bullet hole and enters, revealing a gem-like world inside of Howard, hence an Uncut Gem.

Trivia

  • The first draft of the script was written in 2009. The Safdie Brothers always wanted a real-life Jew to portray the role, so they gave the screenplay to Adam Sandler, who declined. After that, they considered Harvey Keitel and Sacha Baron Cohen for the role of Howard before the brothers decided the part needed a younger actor like first intended. When the movie got financed after the success of Good Time, in 2017, the role went to Jonah Hill, then back to Sandler in 2018.
  • Adam Sandler and Idina Menzel, who portray husband and wife, are jewish in real life.
  • Howard Ratner's jewelry store was a set entirely built for the movie.
  • Adam Sandler had false teeth for his role.
  • Adam Sandler add-libbed many of his dialogues.
  • The film was inspired by the Safdie Brothers' father's time working for a man also named Howard in the Manhattan Diamond District. The Safdie Brothers and their father are also Jewish and avid basketball fans.
  • The Safdie brothers have said that Howard is very similar to Connie Nikas, the protagonist villains of Good Time, with the difference that Howard has more power than Connie.


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