Julia Fox makes her feature debut in “Uncut Gems,” Benny and Josh Safdie’s wild roller-coaster ride through a few weeks in the life of a high-end jewelry dealer and degenerate gambler (Adam Sandler) in New York City’s diamond district. Fox plays a saleswoman called Julia who’s also the girlfriend of her boss, the very married Howard (Sandler). He keeps her in a big apartment in the city while his family is in a big house in the suburbs.
The amoral Howard gets his hands on a rare opal that he tries to auction off at a respectable house, but Celtics’ star Kevin Garnett (the film is set in 2012) wants to buy it. What happens next is a rush of Rube Goldbergian plots involving bookies, pawn shops, Julia “seducing” the Weeknd at a club to make a big sale, jewel-encrusted Furbies, NBA games and lies upon more whopping lies. The climax comes with Julia taking a helicopter to the Mohegan Sun Casino — with a fellow passenger being an older casino high-roller dressed like a pimped-out CEO — as she’s being pursued by thugs to lay a multimillion-dollar bet that will resolve everyone’s problems.
“I grew up in New York City. It’s a very New York-centric movie and I think that also why Josh Safdie was so gung-ho about me being in the movie. He was talking to me about this role for five years.
“I think at first you think [about Julia], ‘Oh just a hard girl dating an older rich man who’s married.’ You, at first, look at her like she’s a homewrecker — like that kind of girl. A gold digger.
“As the story develops we see that she — there’s one line where [Sandler] says, ‘I’m with my family. You wouldn’t know. You don’t have one.’ And we see that she had to fend for herself. And it did make her a certain way, but she still has a soul and she’s doing what she has to do.
“Because she doesn’t have the luxury of being a regular girl. You do kind of feel for her because she’s doing what she has to do to survive.
“Howard is very difficult to be with. She accepts him. She’s the only person he’s real with. He breaks down and cries with her. He really depends on her. She’s always in the back of his mind. She would do anything for him. She really puts herself on the line for him. But he’s just difficult to be with.
“I think that Julia does use her sexuality as a tool, it’s a survival mechanism for her. It’s how she gets close to the Weeknd so that she can sell him a chain and make money.
“And she does use it at the end when she uses the older man for the hotel room [in the casino to hide out in] but she’s always in control.
“She uses that up to a certain point because she’s smart and she’s learned how to maneuver, and she’s learned that the more she withholds, the more these men get desperate and will do anything.
“She’s always used her looks and sexuality to get what she wants because that’s her main tool and weapon. It’s how she survives.
“In the last sequence in the hotel room, she’s like, ‘Yeah the food’s coming. I’m so tired.’ He comes out in his bathrobe but she’s totally unfazed. She knows he’s not going to do anything to her. She’s not a victim. She always dominates whatever man is in the frame with her. She gives them just enough to keep them hooked but never sacrifices herself.
“But she always remains in control — she’s not a victim. You can look at it like, ‘Look at all these men sexualizing her,’ but the joke’s on them. She’s going to get what she wants at the end of the day.
“They’re going to get played. And I think that’s what’s really cool about her, and I can kind of relate to her in that sense as well. I have a Julia in me. I can totally relate to her and totally respect her.
“I think that anyone that judges her hasn’t been in her position. And a lot of time women are frowned upon when they do that, but men get away with anything.”