Mississippi Grind Review
Mississippi Grind feels like a grind at times. When the film throws in needless filler and pointless dialogue with the intention of rounding out the characters it instead slows down the momentum of the road trip. The film is at its best when we are on the road – moving through Memphis, past Sun Records and the like, while a lovely blues soundtrack keeps pace with the driving.
Starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind tells the story of a gambling duo that are on the road in search of things past. Gerry (Mendelsohn) is a down on his luck gambling addict and Curtis (Reynolds), a charismatic gambler that seems to bet for the fun of it. Curtis sees something in Gerry, but we are never quite sure what.
Gerry convinces Curtis to go on a road trip to New Orleans. He paints it has a fun trip that will enable good times and gambling, but in fact it’s an attempt for him to win the money he owes many people. On the road Curtis soon realises that Gerry is in deep and his gambling is a compulsion. The money doesn’t matter, it’s the thrill of the bet that counts. As Gerry gets more and more desperate as does his actions.
Mississippi Grind captures the essence of gambling fairly well. The crushing silence after you realise that you have just spunked money you didn’t have; the burning in your face the second you realise your horse is moving backwards; the discovery that you get less of a good feeling when you win than bad feeling when you lose, Mendelsohn conveys all of those emotions extremely well.
Reynolds is his most likeable since the early days of A Guy, A Girl and a Pizza Place and the nuance of his performance is not truly revealed until the third act of the film. He is equally as broken as Gerry, but is disguised by his charisma. He isn’t gambling because he is addicted, he is gambling because he is searching.
Mississippi Grind does a lot of things well, but ultimately it is let down by pacing issues and scenes that are neither interesting nor integral. The film gets by because of the chemistry between Reynolds and Mendelsohn; it’s killer soundtrack and the interesting journey to the heart of addiction (perhaps not the heart, but a fairly good attempt by a high profile film at looking at gambling), perennial dissatisfaction and the heart of the country.
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