A charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score, makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.
Directors Benny and Josh Safdie are an acquired taste. Their gritty, in-your-face, manic approach overshadowed their first three films, undercutting their hard-edged stories. However, they tone things down just enough to allow this tale of small-time hustler Howard Ratner, brilliantly played by Adam Sandler, to resonate. As their anti-hero’s schemes come tumbling down around him, the directors’ already intrusive camera bores in even further on Sandler who fills the screen with a sense of misguided bravado and frantic desperation that’s a revelation. Not for all tastes, this is a daring piece of cinema that signals a new and welcome direction for Sandler.