Mendelsohn and Reynolds shine in Mississippi Grind

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“Some guys are born to lose.”

Gerry, a victim of his own repeated self-loathing, is a gambling addict with nothing left to lose. In debt to every gambler in town, he moves along every day trying to find money to support his own habits as well as pay back those he owes.

One night, at a Texas Hold-Em table, he meets a man named Curtis who is everything he wishes he could be – young, good-looking, charismatic, and most importantly, a winner. Gerry is immediately enamored with Curtis. They get a drink at the bar and the next thing you know, Gerry and Curtis are on a road trip through the South in an effort to hit every casino. Taking off on an adventure together through the southern states, Gerry and Curtis begin to realize that they aren’t exactly who each thought they were.

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Winding through the south, the film bends and twists along with our protagonists, changing direction with every new city they enter. From dog racing, to bathroom fights, to casino nights, Gerry and Curtis swindle their way down the Mississippi River, doing everything they can to make the money they need. As they switch from city to city, the music changes to the local styles as well – populated with a rich soundtrack featuring classic blues and jazz licks from throughout time. The music beautifully overlays the film with a sweet and sad tone that perfectly matches the narrative.

Almost more impressive than the soundtrack, however, were the performances from leads Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds. Mendelsohn played the role of a desperate loser with nothing going for him perfectly. Even when he had the opportunity to be the winner, his lack of belief in himself led him to fall apart again, and he so heartbreakingly captured that emotion. Behind Mendelsohn’s defensive smile, there was a subtle but noticeable sadness in his face that never really left.

His counterpart in Ryan Reynolds was portrayed outstandingly but with almost the exact opposite style. Brash and full of bravado, Reynolds made sure that his character was exactly what he seemed: charismatic, clever, and a mystery of a human being. Reynolds’ Curtis was everything that Gerry wanted to be – a winner.

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