This article we’re gonna be breaking down the ending of Uncut Gems.
The film ends with a lot of things up in the air and throughout this, we’re gonna be breaking down what we took from the final few scenes and the overall themes behind the movie.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
Now let’s get into our breakdown of Uncut Gems.
Uncut Gems Themes
After a brief prologue that introduces us to the rare and mystifying Opal that becomes pretty much the MacGuffin of the movie, we meet Howard Ratner, a gambling addict that runs a jewelry store in New York’s diamond district.
The first time we come across the character is a rather intimate moment during a colonoscopy in which a polyps is found. Though worrying at first, it is revealed to be benign and this sort of closeness to what could be death and then the revelation that everything will be ok is something that is mirrored throughout the movie.
Uncut Gems is intentionally filmed, edited and presented in a way that will cause anxiety and predominantly we follow Howard as he struggles to pay off a $100,000 debt that he owes to his brother in law Arno.
We’re just gonna be giving a brief plot overview of everything before we get into our analysis on the film so it properly sets up the context of things later on. I’ll try and keep it as simple as possible and just cover the main points but if you haven’t seen the film yet then I highly recommend that do.
Uncut Gems Plot Breakdown
Howard lives with his girlfriend Julia just up from his store and the character has a very estranged relationship with his wife. Neither her nor Dinah, his ex have informed their children and they are very much about keeping up appearances which is also exemplified in his brother-in-law Arno who Howard is in debt to.
Howard obtains the Opal and wishes to list it at auction for an estimated price of $1,000,000 which he is sure he can get. After showing it to basketball player Kevin Garnett, the real-life figure becomes obsessed with it and borrows it for good luck in a game that night.
He pawns Garnett’s ring which he takes as collateral and places a bet on Garnett who plays incredibly well. Though Howard wins, it’s revealed that the bet was stopped by Arno, who with his bodyguards strip him naked and lock him in the trunk of his car. With help from his ex-wife Dinah, Howard is able to get out.
Howard has trouble getting the Opal back from Garnett and he frantically chases after it throughout the majority of the movie.
Everything sort of comes to a head when he calls his employee Demany to try and get it back for him and they agree to meet at a party hosted by The Weekend.
Here he finds out that Garnett still has the stone and he discovers Julia in the bathroom with The Weekend. They break up and Howard goes crawling back to his wife who flat out refuses his advances.
Uncut Gems Ending
Eventually, Garnett returns the Opal and offers to purchase it outright for $175,000 but Howard refuses this and pushes it to auction. Unfortunately, when he gets there he realises that the Opal’s value has been lowered and thus he convinces his father-in-law to shill bid against Garnett in order to drive up the price.
Unfortunately, Howard gets too greedy and wins it and outside he’s assaulted by Arno and his thugs once more. As a broken man, he rebuilds his relationship with Julia and we discover that Garnett still wishes to purchase the gem.
Arno arrives at the store just as this is happening and it looks like the character could finally be out of debt. However, Howard decides to bet all of the money from Garnett on the player that night and he sends Julia out to place this for him whilst he holds off Arno and his gang in the shop.
After locking them between the security doors they are forced to sit and watch the game play out.
However a miracle happens and Howard’s insane bet comes off, winning the character $1.2 million.
It looks like we are going to get a happy ending but when Howard frees the thugs one of them shoots him and then they kill Arno who tries to escape.
Worried for him, Dinah calls the police to check what’s happening with Arno and they begin to descend on the location.
The two enforcers then raid the store stealing everything and we zoom in on Howard’s cheek which then transforms into the inside of the mystical stone before becoming the universe.
It’s a really trippy way to end the film but there’s actually a lot to take from it.
What Happened To The Money?
So the first big question I’ve seen is, what happened to the money?
Well, Julia now has it, the thugs will be arrested and she will likely be able to do what she wants with it. However, that doesn’t mean that it will have a happy ending and personally I think she may even travel a similar path to the one that we see Howard on in the film.
Uncut Gems is very much about Greed and how a short-sighted view of things can ultimately lead to your own downfall. Howard had several opportunities to pay off the debt but instead, he kept gambling, trying to win bigger and bigger with no real perception of things around him.
This is reflected in several characters throughout the film and the only one who doesn’t seem transfixed by the short term is Dinah. We know this because she turns down Howard’s advances to repair their relationship because she has been through this before and already knows the outcome.
Howard on the other hand repeats the cyclical behavior that will offer short term rewards but not long ones.
This is mirrored in the thugs who loot his store and Julia which I’ll get into in just a bit.
What Happens To The Looters?
Ok so the thugs are trapped in the store, that is blatantly obvious. We see throughout the film that even when experienced people want to use the security doors they have difficulty with it.
The trappings of this lead to one of the most nail-biting moments in the movie and I think this is purely put in place to set up the fact that the thugs are trapped there and will be unable to escape in time for the police that are closing in on the position.
However, they don’t really seem to care and are happier looting the store for jewelry that we have seen throughout the film isn’t worth what it’s valued as. They are focused purely on the short term rather than the long term, the here and now, the possession of these objects rather than the lifetime in prison that awaits them if they don’t up and leave immediately.
Like c’mon guys just run.
Julia also follows this similar sort of view and this highlights to me how the money will be wasted by her.
This is exemplified by her cheating on Howard with The Weekend earlier in the film. She had a great relationship with the character and a stable job due to him, however she was more bothered about the short fling in a night club bathroom with a celebrity than what it would do to her home and employment.
Once more she is fixed purely on what’s in front of her rather than the bigger picture.
Now, this does work out for her in a way but only because Howard is too and he takes her back. Howard lives in a constant cycle of toxicity and thus she is able to go back to him.
However, not everyone is like that and in the big wide world by herself, I believe that she will end up losing the money because of how she operates.
Julia has won a huge sum of money through gambling and no doubt she would try this again. I mean who wouldn’t?
I don’t gamble but if I had that kinda money from gambling I’d probably put it all on black or something stupid.
Uncut Gems Ending Explained
As for the ending itself, the trippy, topsy-turvey trip actually means a lot and to me is symbolism for death and the great beyond. Uncut Gems is completely crazy. Whether it’s the characters constantly shouting over one another, things not working how they’re supposed to or Howard placing stupid bets one after the other.
It reflects our lives in general, from one second to the next a lot of people are in a constant state of panic, trying to get things done, rushing by, living day to day with no real thought for the long term and one day it will just all stop.
Similar to the movie, the rush, the noise, the calamity of it all will just come to an end.
The first bit of true peace and quiet throughout the entire film comes due to Howards death and there is no more tension, no more anxiety, no more worry, just a relaxing trip from this earth into the next.
Now what’s most haunting about this final farewell with the character is that there is a grin spread across his face. He actually dies smiling, almost seeming like he doesn’t have a care in the world, which at this point he doesn’t.
We see Howard throughout the movie grinning like this but the one that sticks with me the most is earlier in the film when he places the big bet on Garnett.
A Happy Ending?
The bookmaker at the restaurant says it’s the most ridiculous bet he’s ever heard but Howard disagrees and can be seen smiling. This is Howard when he’s at his happiest, taking the long shot, showing that he’s right and that he won it all.
If Howard had survived the final few moments of the film it’s unlikely that he would have ever had another payout like this for the rest of his life.
He played big, won big and went out on top. Obviously I’m guessing that the audience didn’t want the character dead and would have wanted him to settle his debts, get a life with his kids and use the money on his family to live the life he’d been betting for.
Let’s be honest though, none of that really mattered to Howard, he was more bothered about the chase, the excitement and the thrill of it rather than the results.
Even with the winnings, similar to Julia the two probably would have just bet the money again, ended up in deep with the sharks and have gone through a similar sort of thing.
However, here, Howard doesn’t have to go through that, his last moment on Earth was him winning and winning big.
The character went out on top, in his element and happy.
So when you look at it, in some ways the ending is a happy one and the character is finally at peace.
Uncut Gems Review
Uncut Gems was a film I had difficulty enjoying at the time due to it’s frantic editing and pacing, however, in hindsight I realise that it was all intentionally put in place to make the ending so perfect.
It’s a shame that Sandler got snubbed for the Oscar Nomination because it is genuinely one of his best and most memorable performances in years.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet then I highly recommend that you check it out now, especially because it’s now on Netflix and it gets an…
Obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on Uncut Gems and what you took from the ending. Comment below and let me know!