Mississippi Grind (Blu-ray) (2015)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Groove Behind Mississippi Grind
Featurette-Ben Mendelsohn: The Gambler
Featurette-Ryan Reynolds: The Drifter
|Year Of Production||2015|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Jayson Warner Smith
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
††† The latest feature to be written and directed by the filmmaking team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson), 2015ís Mississippi Grind is old-fashioned all the way through to its core, evoking motion pictures from the í60s and í70s with its unhurried pacing and beautifully filmic cinematography. Taking notable inspiration from the likes of Five Easy Pieces and 1974ís The Gambler, this is a motion picture about gambling, but itís not concerned with the usual glamour associated with Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Instead, Mississippi Grind is more dramatic, providing an unusually solemn, incisive examination of a potentially destructive hobby. The filmís appeal is not derived from casino action, but rather from the interplay of the two fascinating central characters.
††† In Iowa, self-destructive gambling addict Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is stuck in a serious rut. Due to his addiction, Gerry has lost his wife and child, while a loan shark also threatens violence if he doesnít pay his debts. By chance, he meets fast-talking drifter Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) during a game of poker, and the two strangers find themselves drawn together by their shared hunger for gambling in all its forms. Becoming fast friends, Gerry and Curtis look to score big, deciding on an impromptu trip down to New Orleans for a high-stakes poker tournament. Hitting the road, the pair bond as they gamble at every turn, but Curtis gradually begins to understand the depths of Gerryís personal problems.
††† Mississippi Grind delves into the serious ramifications of a gambling addiction, serving as an effective character study of Gerry, who continually yearns for the thrill of watching a dog race or rolling a dice, counting down the seconds until he gets to leave his menial job and return to a casino. In the very first scene of the movie, Gerry is seen listening to a CD about observations on human behaviour, educating himself on how to tell if a person is bluffing at the poker table. Mississippi Grind is episodic in its road trip structure, but thereís a proper narrative through-line and all the vignettes come together in a cohesive fashion. If thereís an issue from a storytelling perspective, itís that the ending doesnít quite mesh with the rest of the movie, as the script begins to veer more into wish-fulfilment territory, clashing with the otherwise realistic tone.
††† The decision to shoot on 35mm film stock enhances both the sense of atmosphere and the old-fashioned vibe, and it makes the movie look more expensive than a digital production. The non-flashy cinematography (by Andrij Parekh) is effectively vťritť at times, too, especially when Gerry and Curtis hit the liquor, and the visuals are supplemented by a pleasant soundtrack of rhythm and blues tunes. But itís the strong performances and astute characterisations that keep Mississippi Grind compulsively watchable from start to end. Accomplished character actor Mendelsohn is note-perfect as Gerry, masking his natural Australian accent to espouse a wholly convincing American drawl that feels entirely lived-in. Alongside him, Reynolds (in a role meant for Jake Gyllenhaal) is enormously charismatic and energetic, displaying his strong dramatic chops that we rarely get to see. Heís nicely subdued as well, never coming across as showy, and even though this isnít a comedy, there are some moments of tender humour which make Curtis seem more innately human. Mendelsohn and Reynolds are so great together, registering plenty of bromantic chemistry. Appealing support is also provided by Sienna Miller as Simone, a caring prostitute who touches Curtisí heart, while Analeigh Tipton shares a few sweet moments opposite Mendelsohn as Simoneís friend Vanessa. There are a lot of really nice scenes peppered throughout the movie, especially when the two boys find themselves in the company of their female companions.
††† Mississippi Grind doesnít snowball into anything revolutionary and itís hard to walk away truly loving it, but itís nevertheless a competent motion picture bolstered by strong performances and focused filmmaking, and thatís good enough to warrant a recommendation. The pacing is leisurely, and it does require patience, but there are plenty of pleasures to extract from this involving drama if you choose to give it a shot.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
† † The Region A release from Lionsgate contains a 17-minute "making of" featurette, and has English subtitles. Since the majority of the extras on this release can be viewed on YouTube, I'm giving Region A the win, especially with subtitles.
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|