Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Ryan Reynolds, Yvonne Landry
Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Running Time: 108 mins
Mississippi Grind is an American film about a washed-up gambler and a young card player who join forces on a road trip around the south to see if they can change their luck at the poker table.
Though undoubtedly reserved and down-to-earth, I found Mississippi Grind a painfully boring watch. Intended as a redemption story for two men with ailing fortunes in gambling as well as life, the film proves a really rather drab and lifeless watch, exchanging genuine character depth for underwhelming and drawn-out drama.
There’s not much that I particularly loved about Mississippi Grind, but that doesn’t mean the film is completely devoid of positives. For one, the way that directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck seek to keep the film as grounded as possible is admirable, and although it ultimately contributes to a drab, almost miserable atmosphere akin to the likes of Blue Valentine, there’s no doubting the intention and heart of the film.
What’s more is that we see two equally down-to-earth performances from Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn. Neither is particularly outstanding here, and have little to do with characters that are nowhere near as well-developed as the film intends, but it’s interesting to see the pair in such understated roles.
However, Reynolds and Mendelsohn really don’t gel well in what’s admittedly meant to be a rocky relationship. Perhaps it’s the fact that both are in such similar situations that there’s not much in the way of a repartee between them, but there’s a real lack of energy from the lead actors that’s representative of the film as a whole.
And that’s what really frustrated me about Mississippi Grind. While its story is certainly genuine, it’s a painfully drab and often lifeless watch that turns potentially impacting character drama into droning, miserable storytelling, to the point that watching the film is more unpleasant than it is interesting.
Along with a glib visual style and terribly slow pacing, the movie is a real slog from start to finish, never overcoming its duller aspects to deliver resonant drama and emotion, and ultimately proving a painful drag. So, that’s why I’m giving Mississippi Grind a 5.1 overall.