REVIEW: Mississippi Grind

29 11 2015

Mississippi GrindEarly on in Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s “Mississippi Grind,” a small detail stood out to me. As Ben Mendelsohn’s Gerry sits down on the can to relieve his bowels, he reaches for something to wipe – and realizes he’s at the end of the roll of toilet paper. While most films, admittedly, avoid portraying such activities in the first place, how many of them bother to include this kind of widely shared frustration?

Boden and Fleck’s film, which they both co-wrote and directed, has one of the most thoroughly lived-in feels of any recent film. The way they capture the loneliness of a locale like an Iowa bar with such specificity comes across as so effortless that it might go unnoticed. But those who know to look will find a highly considered setting for an entertaining story.

“Mississippi Grind” takes the familiar form of a road trip between two buddies, although the pair in this movie only meets when the narrative begins. Gerry has many years of gambling under his belt (and plenty more in debt) before Ryan Reynolds’ younger Curtis comes along and strikes up a chummy rapport. The two head off towards New Orleans for the least Hollywood-like bender of booze and betting.

The favored cliché when describing any road trip or travel story is “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” That may apply to many movies, though it rings especially true for “Mississippi Grind.” Boden and Fleck are not building towards any kind of giant showdown in The Big Easy. Rather, it’s just the natural end point for the duo. The joy of the film comes from watching their little side trips and micro moments, grappling with their troubled pasts and bracing for the uncertain future. B+3stars

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