MARRIAGE STORY Review, UNCUT GEMS Review — Primo Performances, Meh Movies

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Marriage Story review and Uncut Gems review — so-so cinema with awesome acting.

Marriage Story review uncut gems reviewMarriage Story review uncut gems reviewI’m afraid I’m out of sync once again with most of my fellow critics on two of the most celebrated films of the year, Marriage Story and Uncut Gems. The movies as a whole did not impress, but some of the performances were true stand-outs.

First, let’s take a look at Marriage Story. It’s all about lightening rod performances by Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern and Alan Alda.

Noah Baumbach’s script, on the other hand, about the trials and tribulations of divorce and custody battles, is really nothing we haven’t seen before, on big or small screens. I will say the couples’ careers are new; one is an avant guard, award winning play director in New York, the other is a television star in Los Angeles. So relatable! At least it added a bicoastal aspect into the mix, and made their situation seem all the more dramatically untenable.

As for Uncut Gems, who knew Adam Sandler, who plays Howard Ratner, an NYC Diamond District dealer, had that kind of raw, in-your-face talent? It’s by far the best performance of his career. Idina Menzel’s part as Ratner’s not-so-long-suffering wife is so far from frozen it’s smoking, and Julia Fox, as Sandler’s smarter-than-you-think girlfriend is a revelation.

But that acerbic, abusive and abrasive script, in which almost everyone is aggressive and annoying, can drive a viewer to distraction. At first I found the Safdie brothers’ technique fresh and interesting. But you can only take so much of the leads yelling at each other while everyone in the background is yelling at the same time. Guys, give us a break! My companion and I had to pop a CBD gummy halfway through just to chill and keep our heads from exploding. Enough with the shouting already!

Expect to see lots of awards nominations from these two films, but not a lot of wins, including from my own organization, The Critics Choice Association. The acting is outstanding, but the films, as a whole, are not. And that’s hard to overcome.

If this Marriage Story review hasn’t dimmed your desire to see it, stream it now on Netflix. And if you still want to see Uncut Gems, it’s likely playing at a theater near you. Vegan CBD gummies available at

Marriage Story review and Uncut Gems review — so-so cinema with awesome acting.


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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.


  1. Avatar April on January 11, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    You nailed it! I have a slight headache from the yelling and unfortunately had no CBD to help! Several people walked out, I almost did but kept thinking it was gonna “develop.” It never did.

  2. Avatar Doug on January 12, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I agree and the music was very strange and annoying and seemed misplaced. The opening credits went in for too long and the “background” music was not.

    That said, Adam Sandler was amazing.

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