Mississippi Grind Review
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Gambling movies tend to be wild and crazy and over the top, complete with glamorous parties, gorgeous women, and enormous payouts. And they almost always take place in Las Vegas. But you won’t find the same hard-partying, devil-may-care attitude—or the same splashy setting—in Mississippi Grind.

Mississippi Grind heads out on a gambling adventure with down-and-out real estate agent Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) and his new friend, Curtis (Ryan Reynolds). After they meet at a poker tournament in Iowa, Gerry decides that Curtis is his good luck charm. Determined to win the money that will finally get him out of debt, he convinces Curtis to join him on a road trip to a high-stakes home game—but in order to pay for the buy-in, he’ll have to win big at every stop along the way.

Mississippi Grind isn’t a fast-paced, high-energy movie about a couple of happy-go-lucky guys striking it rich at one flashy Las Vegas casino after another. It’s much heavier and more lifelike: a slow and bluesy film about desperation and gambling. As these two aimless companions make their way south, the classic locations and the blues-filled soundtrack set the tone for a tense and deliberate drama that, like its characters, doesn’t always hit the jackpot.

Along the way, the film captures the kind of slightly-seedy Americana that’s often found in older cities. The towns that Gerry and Curtis see through their car windows are classic yet time-worn: old storefronts, dark alleys, and flickering neon signs. And their fellow gamblers are the kind of people you find in local casinos—not the beautiful people found in ads for the latest gimmicky Las Vegas palace. They’re just average people—bored, lonely, maybe even desperate. And the gritty honesty of it all is one of the film’s greatest strengths.

Unfortunately, though, the story often feels as aimless and empty as its main characters. Though both stars give solid performances, development comes in the occasional hints and revelations, and it’s not quite enough to get a real feel for these two traveling companions. And while the story often hints that there’s something deeper—something more interesting—beneath the surface, the investment in the characters and their adventure never fully pays off.

Beautifully filmed and told with honesty and sincerity, Mississippi Grind is far from what you’d probably expect from a gambling road trip movie. It’s a striking film—but not necessarily a satisfying one.

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