Reminiscent, in many ways, of the Robert Altman classic ‘California Split’, which was released in 1974, Mississippi Grind is a 2015 comedy-drama written and directed by acclaimed filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. The main protagonists, Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) and Curtis (Ryan Reynolds), are compulsive gamblers who strike up a friendship while playing poker, and drinking heavily, in a casino in Dubuque, Iowa. Player on wolfwinner.net and the like and bound to understand this ccasino connection.
Middle-aged divorcee Gerry, who owes tens of thousands of dollars to the local loan shark (Alfre Woodard), convinces himself that the younger, more energetic Curtis is a good luck charm and insists on accompanying him to a high-stakes poker tournament in New Orleans, Louisiana. Thus, the newfound friends embark on a road trip down the Mississippi River, stopping off at second-rate casinos and racetracks off the beaten track along the way. Like California Split, which culminates in Reno, Nevada, Mississippi Grind deliberately shies away from the glitz and glamour of more familiar gambling destinations, such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, in favour of more humble surroundings.
Mississipi Grind paints a vivid, if not always altogether pleasant, picture of gambling addiction, but does so with empathy and humour. Both men have obvious character flaws; Gerry is antagonistic, manipulative and a pathological liar and Curtis is essentially a devil-may-care transient. Neverless, during the course of the film, they forge a deep, meaningful and lasting friendship. Despite numerous reverses, the film ends on a buoyant, upbeat note, with the pair winning $500,000 between them in a casino in the ‘Big Easy’. Hopefully your experiences on machine à sous en argent réel will echo this!
Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday wrote, ‘Mississippi Grind winds up being an improbably satisfying, even heartwarming character study. Neither morality tale nor decadent road picture, it’s an unlikely bromance between two Peter Pans who, when faced with the choice of whether to stay safely on terra firma, can’t help but take flight – even if it means they’ll crash and burn.’