SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Uncut Gems. If you have not yet seen the film, please proceed at your own risk!
If you’re looking for a cinematic experience that may induce multiple episodes of cardiac arrest, the Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems is a delight that you absolutely must not miss. Not only is it thrilling to the point of being legitimately stressful to watch, but it also features the best work of Adam Sandler’s career, and features a few head-turning performances from the likes of Idina Menzel, newcomer Julia Fox, and even NBA star Kevin Garnett.
Of course, one of the most enticing elements of the film is the fact that it doesn’t offer firm conclusions for all of its plot threads, inviting varieties of speculation among fans – and proof positive of that is this very feature. With Uncut Gems soon set to start streaming on Netflix, we figured we’d take a look back at the movie and highlight all of the unanswered questions we’re left with by the time the end credits roll:
Does Julia escape with Howard’s money?
The literal million dollar question that is left hanging by the time the end credits roll in Uncut Gems pertains to what the future has in store for Julia Fox’s Julia De Fiore. Her final scene in the film finds her sitting in the backseat of a limo receiving a pair of duffel bags filled with cash from the excessively perv-y Wayne (Wayne Diamond), and closing the door to presumably head off to the local airport. What the future holds for her beyond that is a mystery… and one that’s kind of fun to explore.
It’s right after Howard gets off the phone with Julia that Phil (Keith Williams Richards) shoots him in the face, and viewers paying attention will remember that the last thing our protagonist tells his girlfriend is that he is going to book her a plane back to New York. This means that there is going to be no jet waiting for Julia at the airport, so what does she do? It’s possible that she uses the cash to charter her own ride back to the city, but where does she go from there? Does she go to KMH, or is she scared enough about Howard’s sudden silence to stay away knowing that danger may lurk there? Does she go to the apartment? Or does she just escape? Maybe the Safdie brothers can turn her story into a sequel.
Do Phil and Nico manage to escape KMH?
The way things wind up playing out with the NBA game and Kevin Garnett, Uncut Gems could have had an honest happy ending, but Phil’s temper ultimately forbids that from happening. When Howard lets Phil, Arno, and Nico out of the sallyport and in to KMH following the game, there is a brief moment when it seems that everything is going to work out – but then Phil puts a bullet in Howard’s face, shortly thereafter killing Arno as well. The surviving gangsters then start to rob the place, smashing display cases and filling bags with jewelry. What’s unclear, though, is if they actually manage to leave the establishment as free men.
The only reason this is an issue is because of the aforementioned sallyport. The only way to get out of KMH is if a person behind the counter presses a button twice – once to open the first door, and then again to open the second door when the first door is closed. This means that the only way for Phil or Nico to leave would be if one of them agreed to stay behind in the store. While it’s true that we don’t know a great deal about their relationship beyond what’s shown in Uncut Gems, it’s pretty hard to imagine either guy sacrificing their freedom for the other. The conversation changes if Howard has a key on him that opens the doors, but even if that’s the answer to the proposed question here the film doesn’t provide us with enough evidence to let us know that’s definitively the case.
How will Dinah react when she learns of Howard’s death?
If one thing is made overwhelmingly clear over the course of Uncut Gems, it’s that Idina Menzel’s Dinah is totally sick of Howard’s shit. She knows he is ridiculously irresponsible with money, and sleeps with other women, and it seems that the only reason they remain a couple is because they have children together. At the Passover Seder she fully rejects his offer to reconcile, and it seems to be the final nail in the coffin of their partnership. At the same time, given their tenured relationship one has to wonder how she will react when she learns of her husband’s murder.
Dinah’s final scene in Uncut Gems featured her with her extended family exhibiting her remaining feelings for Howard by openly talking about the incident when she had to free him from the car trunk during the school play. Fearful for his life, she discusses possibly calling the police, fearing that he might be in danger. But will she actually shed a tear when she learns that he is gone? Or will it simply be a case of her recognizing the “reap what you sow” situation for what it is? It’s a subject left open for debate, especially because of Dinah’s repeatedly demonstrated fierce demeanor.
What happened to The Weeknd’s Michael Jackson crucifix necklace?
One of the first ridiculous moves we see Howard make in Uncut Gems unfolds shortly after the character is introduced, coming home to Julia and another woman lounging in the bed of his Manhattan apartment. Julia tells him about her time photographing The Weeknd, showing Howard shots of the singer showing off his jewelry – including a diamond-encrusted Michael Jackson crucifix necklace. Seconds later that same piece is in Howard’s hands as he walks into a pawn shop, and then moments after he gets a wad of cash he is at his bookie’s restaurant placing a bet. Ultimately it becomes part of the first gamble placed on the opal-enhanced Kevin Garnett… but then Arno has his men cancel the play and take the money as fraction of what the loan shark is owed. So what happens to the necklace after that?
We see some pressure applied to Howard about the controversial piece of jewelry throughout Uncut Gems, specifically at the dance club before the protagonist’s big fight with Julia, and when Kevin Garnett, Demany (Lakeith Stanfield), and others are trapped in the KMH sallyport, but beyond that it’s a plot thread left hanging. When he needs to get the opal back from Garnett, Howard is willing to pawn his Knicks ring in order to get the Celtics ring back, but he never makes any such swap for the Michael Jackson crucifix. So did The Weeknd ever get reunited with the piece? Did the pawn shop ultimately sell it to someone else? These are questions without answers.
Is Gooey out $190,000?
In case it isn’t clear by now, a lot of people get really hurt and/or screwed at the end of Uncut Gems, but few get quite as screwed over as Gooey, Howard’s father-in-law played by Judd Hirsch. The guy is kind enough to work with the film’s protagonist on what is essentially a form of fraud, bidding against Kevin Garnett in hopes of raising the auction price of the black opal, and what does he get for it? A hole in his bank account the size of $190,000. Howard promises that he’ll pay Gooey back – and while that promise isn’t worth much anyway given Howard’s track record, it’s significant that the jeweler/gambling addict is killed before he can give back a single dime.
Sooo… is Gooey totally shit out of luck? Admittedly his attitude throughout the whole thing suggested that $190,000 wasn’t everything he had, but there isn’t a person on the planet who would be totally okay seeing nearly $200k in personal wealth go up in smoke. It’s possible that Howard had a life insurance plan, and Dinah, Gooey’s daughter, may be the main beneficiary of his estate, so perhaps he could recoup his losses that way. Otherwise, the guy is categorically one of the biggest losers in Uncut Gems.
Does the black opal contain magical properties?
This is admittedly a kind of silly question, but we’re going to ask it anyway. One of the joys of cinema and specifically fiction is the fact that anything is possible. Stories have the permission to break the laws of our reality, and that isn’t just limited to space operas or fantastical epics. Some of the best movies in history find a spark of magic in the seemingly normal, and it’s simply through that context that we ask this: does the titular stone in Uncut Gems actually contain magical properties?
Logic and math dictates that correlation does not imply causation, but here are the facts as they are presented in the Safdie brothers film: when Kevin Garnett has the black opal, he plays basketball at the top of his game, and he is able to lead the Boston Celtics to a Game 7 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. If this happened in our own world we would throw around words and phrases like “superstition” and “placebo effect,” but Uncut Gems isn’t set in our world – it’s a fictional movie. So could the black opal actually be magic? It’s not off the table.
After watching Uncut Gems, what questions do you find yourself left with? Hit the comments section below, and be on the lookout for more from CinemaBlend about this wonderful, wonderful movie.