Mississippi Grind Movie Review
Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds turn in solid performances and writing/directing duo Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden paint a vivid picture of gambling addiction in the drama Mississippi Grind. Too bad gambling addiction is not at all fun to watch.
Plenty of movies have dealt with gambling addiction, but the addiction is typically used as a source of conflict that can be overcome by incredible poker skills and a bit of a luck. These movies usually use poker or some other vice as a means for suspense and entertainment; the protagonist’s addiction is not the focal point of the story.
It’s hard to say what Fleck and Boden intended Mississippi Grind to be, because it’s a grind to watch either way. If they intended the movie to be not unlike all the others, the latest iteration of Rounders or the countless other gambling movies that have come before it or after, then they fail miserably: not much happens and you don’t really care either way, because the characters aren’t well defined or even particularly likable. As a drama about addiction, the movie simply isn’t entertaining; the film slogs from one scene to the next, failing to develop the characters or their motivations. We can see that Mendelsohn’s character has a problem and the impact it has on him and those around him, but those elements do not add up to an enjoyable movie-watching experience.
Mississippi Grind is rescued to some degree by the actors. While Mendelsohn seems to play the same type of character in everything he’s in, he does it well, and no better actor is suited to play the troubled individual brought to life here. Reynolds plays off type and arguably delivers the better performance of the two, though his character’s purpose is muddled at best.
Mississippi Grind is about addiction, but while the filmmakers do a good job of bringing addiction to life, they seemingly forgot they still had to make a movie with characters we care about, a story we want to watch and an experience that entertains. This is a grind that’s best left in the vault.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.