Mississippi Grind Review: Winning is Losing

Photo Credit:http://www.standard.net/Movies-TV/2015/01/22/Sundance-Mississippi-Grind-takes-road-trip-gamble

Mississippi Grind should be referred to as exactly what it is, a drug movie. The addiction here is to gambling. Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) and Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) first lay eyes on each other at a poker table in Iowa. Their spirits compliment each other, as both are lost in their own lives. Gerry owes everyone in town some money, while Curtis is 35 and can’t seem to land anywhere without taking off once he gets bored. They live life by the fly, ruined by the choices and circumstances that got them to this point. Together, they drive down the Mississippi River to try and win big in New Orleans.

Writer-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck do an admirable job making us feel for these two people who turned themselves into losers. But they make the mistake of rewarding their characters too much in the end. It really muddles any sort of point the film was trying to make about addiction or where Gerry and Curtis might end up next.

But as a road comedy, Mississippi Grind manages to work really well before it’s forced to come up with a resolution to these two mens’ stories. The film’s successes are in no small part due to Mendelsohn and Reynold’s energetic and engaging performances. Their chemistry is apparent right in the opening scene, and it carries the film all the way through its disappointing conclusion.

Still, the film falters simply because there’s not much of an arc. The script tries to pull one together, but the characters don’t change and the film doesn’t stick to the tactic of faulting them for their mistakes. It’s a gamble to make an addiction movie where the drug helps the characters win. In this case, it didn’t work, and it makes what could have been a great film into just a decent one. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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