Mississippi Grind follows the unlikely duo of divorced and indebted estate agent Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn), and gambling for the fun-of-it traveller Curtis (Ryan Reynolds). They bond over a rainbow (of all things), and cement their friendship over seemingly endless amounts of Woodford Reserve bourbon. This culminates in a road trip down the Mississippi, from Iowa to New Orleans, passing through an array of deep-south casinos, both darker and sleazier than their Las Vegas counterparts.
“Mendelsohn has played comedy and tragedy very well before, and this is no exception”
The duo face the question of love, a seemingly never-ending theme in film. Curtis is torn over whether to profess his love to Simone (Sienna Miller) in St Louis, though we never really get a backstory to this. Gerry, however, really wants to see his daughter, so diverts their road trip to Little Rock to visit ex-wife Dorothy (Robin Weigert). In a suspect move, he attempts to rob the money in her sock drawer. ‘They were the same socks as when we were married’, he sadly remarks. Mendelsohn has played comedy and tragedy very well before, and this is no exception.
“The strong leads, combined with a suitably Southern soundtrack and sober shots of barren towns, make this a truly interesting film”
Reynolds’ natural charm is ubiquitous, while Mendelsohn plays the depressed gambling addict with aplomb; increasing his depth and sincerity as the film progresses. The strong leads, combined with a suitably Southern soundtrack and sober shots of barren towns, make this a truly interesting film.
Outstanding acting performances by Reynolds and Mendelsohn counterbalance a series of plot holes, and it is perhaps right that the film does have a clichéd ending. This is a tale of two unlikely friends; a classic and hugely likeable, go-for-broke underdog story with charm and heart to spare.