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REVIEW: Mississippi Grind (2015)

MISSISSIPPIGRINDREVIEWThis drama is part road movie, part solemn addiction story and part wet-cloth ‘comedy’.  It is a small release due out this Friday that most will probably miss and if I’m being honest, most who those who do will not be losing out.  This comes from upstart filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, who gave us Half Nelson, led by Ryan Gosling.  I guess the always reliable Scott Mendelsohn and the sometimes unreliable Ryan Reynolds liked what they saw in that movie to come aboard this one, I don’t think It’s A Funny Kind Of Story convinced them, but who knows.

The film sees middle aged loser Gerry (Mendelsohn), at first a picture of procrastination but later revealed to have a gambling problem, the source of his ills.  Of course gambling problems are always hand in hand with money problems.  So when Curtis (Reynolds) shows up, he has an immediate effect on Gerry’s losing streak, who is convinced the former is a lucky charm.  Since Curtis is only passing through and on his way to Mississippi, Gerry decides to leave town with him – they’ve struck up an unusual friendship at this point.  What better way to flee the heavies wanting to collect?

Along the way, Gerry, who is fleeing an ex-wife and life in general as well as financial debt, is introduced to two hooker friends of Curtis.  By that point it becomes clear that even though Curtis cuts a more suave and confident figure (hence the casting of Reynolds) on the surface, he is just as much a loser and on the run himself.  A key scene between both men in their shabby rent a car debating their real ages hints at mid life crises.

To be honest, while the performances range from great (Mendelsohn) to good (Reynolds), I wouldn’t recommend this movie even as a time killer.  If the trailer and promotional footage make it look exciting and fun, it really isn’t.  It’s kind of depressing with gambling tropes and quite frankly characters that aren’t overly interesting.  The end also kind of betrays the tone set throughout, shouldn’t it have been more downcast?  How often do people like this have happy endings?

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