“A hero is nothing more than the guy who pulls off what the rest of us are scared to do.”
Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Mississippi Grind (2015) stars Ben Mendelsohn & Ryan Reynolds in lead roles. This review is a part of the short reviews that we’ve planned to post for the new indie films that need to be seen.
Review by Nafees
Mississippi Grind can be better described as a character study of two people who have nothing in common except for their passion for gambling. Even if you are not a sucker for gambling-based films, Mississippi Grind is immensely likable and irresistible, with a few good entertaining moments spread throughout it.
Miserable-looking Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) bumps into Woodford-loving Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) on one of the Poker tables in one of those random nights. Soon you start suspecting that there might be some con-game on the cards here. Soon, down-on-luck Gerry believes that the other person is a lucky charm. Therefore they bond together over natural conversations and bottles of bourbon. They then embark on a road trip meeting old friends & family member, and gamble at all the halts.
Mississippi Grind never really focuses on the tricks or the results of gambling, rather the end result of each gamble brings a new twist and it helps in fleshing out the characters in quite a revealing manner. The tentative friendship between its two lead characters is as fickle as the roll of the dice. In fact, their problems are graver than what it seems on the surface level. They eventually make each other realize about the irreparable damages in each other’s life, which helps their camaraderie grow beyond winning the gamble.
While Ryan Reynolds offers a level-headed performance, it is Ben Mendelsohn’s earnest performance that perfectly showcases Gerry’s vulnerability as well compulsion for gambling. Interestingly, Mendelsohn’s presence smooths out the little flaws in this road movie/bromance narrative. Overall, this low-budget indie film, directed by Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden, quite convincingly explore the dynamics of the two flawed characters and quite smartly brings in the tense set-ups of gambling to provide the necessary thrills.
Review by Shikhar
Mississippi Grind is basically a character study about two people. Two people addicted to gambling in their own ways. While, Gerry hasn’t had much luck with his calls, Curtis can’t lose his bets.
Mississippi Grind is not what it might seem on the surface. Its a road-trip/black comedy about the various places that addiction takes you to. Its also a film that moves along the wide contours of America. And as Gerry and Curtis move through different terrain, things don’t light up for the duo. Shady things happen and that’s where the characters get a smarter character arc. Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden who previously directed ‘Half Nelson’ – another intriguing indie film about addiction and redemption – get their cards right yet again.
While Ryan Reynolds plays the charming good luck charm, you do know that his character is deeper than that. And what a treat it is to watch Ben Mendelsohn. With every film the dude ups himself up. From Animal Kingdom, Killing Them Softly to Starred Up and Slow West, the Australian actor keeps delivering scene-stealing performances.