For Reel

Mississippi Grind (2015)
November 16, 2015, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director: Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden
4 Stars
Mississippi GrindThe opening image of Mississippi Grind is a rainbow spanning the horizon, a sight that will bring a pair of disparate gamblers (Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds) together as a cosmic telling of good fortunes ahead. Soon, after playing a poker game together in Dubuque, the two find themselves traveling towards New Orleans, making stops along the way at various casinos and betting tracks. Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden–directors gifted with a particular knack for character, allowing themselves tangents that reveal things about the relationships without adhering strictly to the terms of the plot mechanics–have some fun in suggesting how Reynolds himself becomes Mendselsohn’s latest excuse to continue his habit. As addicts do whatever they can to justify their latest fix, so too do people find themselves enabled and reinvigorated by new relationships and circumstances. The picture has a great sense for detail–Reynolds’ character, for example, is obsessed with them, and his countless stories based on little trivia facts suggest a certain mythologizing that is reflected by the film’s evocation of the road movie. Mendelsohn’s performance is dynamic enough to shift the audience’s impression of him as the film goes along, creating a richer, fuller portrait than the simple addict, and his relationship with Reynolds brings Reynolds’ broader performance down to Earth.

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