Verdict: 4 / 5
I’ve always liked Ryan Reynolds. I know a lot of people like him, but I feel like I’ve liked him for longer and should get a prize. That’s why it makes me so happy to see him getting better and better in different movies. Mississippi Grind is one of them.
His style of acting may just be different intensities of “Ryan Reynolds,” but at least he remains charming and personable while doing so. Mississippi Grind is the kind of movie that shows that my faith in him is well founded.
The film sets itself up to show us the story of two gamblers: Gerry (Mendelsohn) and Curtis (Reynolds). We are initially led to believe that Curtis is the wild and reckless one and that Gerry is the sober and boring one. But as we soon discover, Curtis is actually surprisingly wise and knows how to control himself, whereas Gerry is in a downward spiral with no sign of stopping until he destroys everyone around him.
Various mishaps bring the two together as friends, and they find various reasons to travel across the American South, engaging in different kinds of gambling contests. Mississippi Grind is essentially a character study of two men, of their friendship and their psychology. The characters feel very real and are acted extremely well, and the Southern setting placed against this is the perfect accompaniment.
There’s no large action set pieces in this, just travel, talking and drama, with the occasional lightening of tone in humorous ways. It’s the story of these two guys and their lives, and I was so engaged in finding out what happened to them.