The Safdie Brothers' Uncut Gems was a sleeper hit, and now that it's available on Netflix, millions of Adam Sandler fans ca experience the two hours of delightfully stressful action themselves. But a closer look at this new cult classic could reveal a deeper meaning behind the story of its tragic protagonist.
Uncut Gems stars a surprisingly dramatic Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a jeweler who falls deep into a gambling habit and must scheme and manage his way out of debt. On Reddit, one fan drew a connection between the movie and another story of escape: the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus.
Redditor u/Luxray_15 spotted the comparison, and it seems to line up really well. The myth of Daedalus and Icarus begins with Daedalus, the designer of the famed Labyrinth, trapped inside his own creation by King Minos. He escapes by remembering the path out, luckily.
Meanwhile, in Uncut Gems, Howard is thousands of dollars in debt to his brother-in-law, Arno. In other words, Sandler's character is trapped in a prison of his own creation, his gambling problem. And like Daedalus, Howard is able to escape using the same thing that got him in trouble in the first place: gambling.
Escaping the Labyrinth wasn't the last obstacle for Daedalus, though. After his escape, he fashioned wings for himself and his young son Icarus out of feathers and wax, and together they took flight off the island of Crete. But Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sea (waves would soak the feathers) or too close to the sun either (the wax would melt). Unfortunately, Icarus ignored his dad's advice, flew too close to the sun, fell into the sea, and drowned.
In Uncut Gems, Howard makes an equally risky plan. After finally obtaining the money he needs to pay off his debts to Arno, he instead decides to place one more epic bet on Kevin Garnett and the Celtics (based on some insider info) to score a huge profit. So while keeping Arno's henchmen at bay, Howard sends his girlfriend to The Mohegan Sun via helicopter to make the bet.
Of course, the parallel here draws themselves: she flies literally close to the Sun for Howard.
The ending of Uncut Gems is shocking, but let's just say Howard takes an Icarian role in the movie's final moments. It's a movie about taking risks. Those risks pay off sometimes, but sometimes not even that is enough to keep us from our past mistakes.
The myth of Daedalus and Icarus is used often in discussions around addictions. The difficulty in balancing just enough to satiate the urge, not enough to get in trouble. Uncut Gems shows exactly what happens when you lose sense of that balance.
Uncut Gems is available to stream on Netflix.