Uncut Gems – Daniel Lopatin

★ ★ ★ ★

When Daniel Lopatin (better known as Oneohtrix Point Never) first linked up with the Safdie Brothers, directors of Uncut Gems, on 2017’s Good Time, the plot, characters and setting were malleable enough to withstand Lopatin’s abrasive production. The focal point of Uncut Gems is a self-contained universe that exposes the strange cross-section of New York’s Diamond District and 21st century America’s cultural touchstones – basketball and hip-hop. For Lopatin’s production to be able to manoeuvre in such a narrow framework, without weighing down the film, is a mammoth task. 

uncut gems

My favourite musical moment of the film is when Adam Sandler’s character meanders around the apartment his girlfriend has vacated, and Madonna’s ‘Rain’ plays as he realises the depth of their relationship. That song is more fragile than any of Lopatin’s compositions but the fact that it remains pronounced is a testament to Lopatin’s approach. Yes, the score is bristling with intensity – the percussive synths and relentless drone on ‘School Play’ is all tension and no release – but the maximalism moulds perfectly with the film’s overarching anxiety. The playful keys and big choral samples on ‘Fuck You Howard’ that are interrupted with a high-pitched piercing are a perfect representation of the dread that still filters through the film’s tender moments.


Niall O’Shaughnessy – Former Music Editor