Mississippi Grind
dir-scr Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
prd Ben Nearn, Jamie Patricof, Tom Rice
with Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn, Sienna Miller, Robin Weigert, Analeigh Tipton, Alfre Woodard, James Toback, Lauren Gros, Indigo, Susan McPhail, Yvonne Landry, Jason Davis
release US 25.Sep.15, UK 23.Oct.15
15/US 1h48
Mississippi Grind
Rollin' on the river: Reynolds and Mendelsohn

miller weigert sw
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Mississippi Grind There's an easy rhythm to this road movie, which snakes south along the Mississippi River following the misfortunes of two gambling addicts. But while it's strongly well-made, and anchored by two sharp performances, the film is a bit too relentlessly grim and mopey to resonate in any meaningful way.

In Iowa, estate agent Gerry (Mendelsohn) meets cocky gambler Curtis (Reynolds), and the two instantly spark. They are clearly cut from the same cloth, although Gerry has 10 years of disappointment on Curtis. And the fact that both saw a dramatic rainbow in the sky that morning is surely an omen. So Gerry decides to drive with Curtis to a high-stakes poker game in New Orleans. Along the way, they stop in St Louis to see Curtis' friend Simone (Miller), in Memphis to make some cash, and in Little Rock to visit Gerry's ex (Weigert).

To say that the journey doesn't go as they expect is rather redundant. These are addicts who simply don't know when to stop, never holding onto their winnings very long and always determined to turn their latest failure around, no matter how bad the odds or how high the cost. Gerry has been systematically destroying his life for the past five years or so, and Curtis has some catching up to do. Everyone else in their lives has given up long ago.

Reynolds is terrific as a fast-talking, effortlessly charming guy who feels like a winner. He never thinks about the anonymous women he easily talks into his bed, although he's haunted by Simone, nicely played by Miller as the only woman who sees right through him. Mendelsohn is even more convincing as a man who's a bit further down the road, chased by a loan shark (a spiky cameo by Woodard) and aware of his own failings, but still optimistic.

All of this is assembled in a relaxed, often humorous way by Boden and Fleck, capturing the rhythms of these men as they navigate their desperate lives. There's a hint early on that this might all turn into a double-whammy scam, but that never quite materialises. Instead, the film quietly observes these men to make some pointed comments about people who believe they are destined to be winners in a world that wants to crush them. But most of us in the audience have learned that lesson already.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 1.Oct.15

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