Review: Sundance Film Festival Selection ‘Mississippi Grind’ starring Ben Mendelsohn & Ryan Reynolds

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Disguised as a buddy, road movie, Mississippi Grind is an intense and intimate story of addiction that reveals the gritty details of a lifetime gambler when he’s paired up with one that’s just beginning. Ben Mendelsohn melts into this fantastic role and he really tears your heart out.

Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) likes to play poker and he’s been on a bit of a losing streak. His luck changes when he’s around the hard-to-read Curtis (Ryan Reynolds). The two embark on a road trip from Iowa to New Orleans and as you may have guessed, learn more about themselves and each other. It could have been cliche and terrible, but all the talent involved from the writing to the directing to the acting, make it a solid movie about another side of addiction, the one that doesn’t destroy you, but those around you.

Yes, I’m a fan of Ryan Reynolds. He may have caught my eye in Van Wilder, but it’s Just Friends that really sealed it. Oh, and he’s actually a great actor. Yeah, he sucked as Green Lantern, but he’s been great in Chaos Theory, Buried and the yet-for-me-to-see Voices (which Liz is still raving about). As Curtis, he’s disheveled yet charming, but not the over-the-top charming that reared it’s ugly head in The Change Up or The Proposal.

Ben Mendelsohn, is the new (dare I say) Gary Oldman. He can do (and does) everything and you’ve probably seen him so many times and you didn’t even know it. Here are a few of my favorite roles:

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Trespass with Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman – watch in on Netflix
A thief who’s plans to rob a family man totally backfire.

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The Dark Knight Rises
The smarmy guy trying to control Bain.

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Starred Up – watch on Amazon
A father in prison who thinks what’s best for his son is to toughen him up. p.s. Even though it’s in English, I highly recommend turning on the captions.

My favorite part about this movie is that I didn’t know if I should root for them or not. The characters are so incredibly developed and presented, that you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s the exact type of movie that’s the bread and butter of great actors, but unfortunately, it’s not the type of movie that appeals to a wide audience. Those who seek it out, however, will be treated to an emotionally layered thinkpiece.

Now available on DirecTV, at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York today and October 5th in Los Angeles. It comes to Bluray/DVD December 1st, but I bet you’ll be able to buy it digitally the week or so before.

About Melissa Hanson

Melissa Hanson aka Dial M For Melissa - Managing Editor / Podcast Producer - Growing up, Melissa’s favorite destination was always the video store and would agonize over whether to watch something new or to rewatch a favorite. Things have not changed. Follow on Twitter @DialMForMelissa

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