We can't lose.
Films have a sound to them, a volume if you will. Some are loud like those made my Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese or Michael Bay, others are quiet like Wes Anderson or David Lynch. Mississippi Grind is a film that could have been loud, with its narrative based on a journey rooted in gambling, but it’s not – it is introspective, reserved and unique.
Written and directed by dual talents Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Mississippi Grind finds a middle aged man named Gerry who is your typical ‘gambler.’ Gerry is in a tough spot, with no family we can see, debts mounting and his luck pointing hard toward the negative. Until he meets a charismatic man named Curtis. The two have an immediate pull to one another and decide to team up. Instantly Gerry’s luck changes, so Gerry clings to Curtis, embarking on a journey through the South to New Orleans so that things may finally start going his way with his lucky charm.
There have been plenty of films about gambling, nearly all of them involving your standard tropes of misery, bloodshed and poor decision making. Mississippi Grind is not that type of film, in fact you almost forget the film is about gambling because it focuses so much on the dynamic between Gerry (played by Ben Mendelsohn) and Curtis (played by Ryan Reynolds). Mississippi Grind is more like the men’s version of Thelma & Louise than Oceans 11 or Casino.
Mississippi Grind has only positive things going for it. It is a nice unpresumptuous film about its characters, undistracted by the lights and bells around them. The acting is nuanced and complete, and never does it revert to the archetype of the ‘down in the dumps’ addict. Instead, these characters are versions of people who have seen behind the curtain, after the bar calls “Last Call” and the bright yellow halogen lights turn on – this is a man who has seen the grunge and filth and dirt of the night and is unaffected.
This is a journey film you really need to stick around for until the end. Beautifully and simply acted with a jazzy southern soundtrack to match the contextual grit, Mississippi Grind is a film indie fans and cinemaphiles should appreciate.
Mississippi Grind – Movie Review