Mississippi Grind: Film Review

I’m not a big fan of gambling movies simply because I don’t understand how anyone can get pleasure from risking all their money, and I really can’t stomach the high-stakes scenes, so Mississippi Grind was an incredibly tense watch for me. It was elevated into an enjoyable experience simply through the brilliant performances by Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds.

Mendelsohn is Gerry, a gambling addict who doesn’t know when to stop and has racked up a ton of debts, and lost his wife and his daughter. He meets Curtis (Reynolds) at a casino table and considers him his lucky charm who can change his losing streak. They embark on a road trip to casinos along the Mississippi River to raise enough dough to enter a high buy-in game in New Orleans.

What I loved about this was the script. Gerry and Curtis both love gambling but they have very different approaches to it – Gerry is desperate, Curtis is relaxed. It’s almost like a buddy drama and they play off one another brilliantly. Some of their interactions are a joy to watch and I thought they were perfectly cast. Mendelsohn in particular was very convincing as a gambling addict who cannot quit while he is ahead and someone who will steal from his loved ones to keep his habit going. I also really liked their co-stars Sienna Miller and Analeigh Tipton as prostitutes they meet in St. Louis. They are only in it for a short part of the movie, and I wish we had seen more of them.

grind2

My problem was that the film flags towards the end and you want it to reach its conclusion, and it takes longer than expected. It gets quite repetitive as Gerry keeps betting and losing, but is convinced his luck will change. You want him to wake up and turn his life around and that moment never really comes. He is really not likeable – which is fine, because Curtis is and it balances out. You cannot tell from the end if Gerry has truly learned his lesson, or if his life will remain a cycle of winning and losing. But I guess this isn’t a moral-of-the-story type film.

It is enjoyable, and very tense in the gambling scenes because you know how much Gerry needs it. You desperately want him to wise up, and for Curtis to stop enabling him. The characters and script were great, but it could have done with tightening up towards the end.

In cinemas Friday 23rd October 

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