I feel like I dedicate far too much time defending Ryan Reynolds on this blog, and after being massively underwhelmed by Self/less earlier this year, I was planning on giving Mississippi Grind a miss, but the reviews I had read looked fairly positive, so I scolded myself for being judgmental and gave it a watch the other night.
Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) loves to gamble but is currently down on his luck and in serious financial trouble. When he winds up meeting Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) a younger, and charismatic poker player, the two decide to set out on a road trip throughout the South to win back what they have lost, not only money.
I’m not a gambler myself, and my only knowledge of poker is that it’s something to do with the number 21. I don’t know if aces are highs or lows, and I don’t know what anyone means when they say ‘check’, but luckily no knowledge of the hobby is required to enjoy Mississippi Grind. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie quite like it, but if I had to compare it to anything, it definitely has some similarities to Sideways.
This was a really enjoyable movie to watch, and I was never sure how it was going to end for the two friends. Just when things start to look up for them, a disaster is waiting just around the corner, and when you think the situation can’t get any worse, it does, but then picks back up again. The final casino scene in particular was a real nail biter, and the suspense that gets built up was really effective.I found myself sat on the edge of my seat, wanting to shout ‘Well then?! What happened??’ Thankfully we aren’t left hanging for too long.
I haven’t seen much of Ben Mendelsohn’s work so far but he is definitely one to watch here. His character was so well played. He gives off such a perfect loner-type with a hint of darkness, and I was never sure whether to feel sorry for his character or whether I wanted to grab him and talk some sense into him. Ryan Reynolds was great too and got to play the character he plays so well, but Mendelsohn definitely steals the show here.
My only real reservation is that I’m not sure what is missing from making Mississippi Grind a great movie. It was such an entertaining watch, but it was missing the ‘wow’ factor, and I can’t put my finger on why.
That said though, this is definitely worth a watch.
Oh, and I have typed the word 'Mississippi' so much now I'm hesitating, and it doesn't look like a real word to me anymore. Help!