By Don Malvasi
Originally posted on Cinedork.com
A couple of apparent losers get acquainted during a poker game in some godforsaken Iowa town. One, Gerry (a terrific Ben Mendelsohn), is a fascinating degenerate gambler who probably couldn’t stop if someone told him the world would end tomorrow if he didn’t. The other player, Curtis (an equally good Ryan Reynolds), is like-able although swaggering and outgoing to the point of badgering. He is also hard to figure out. Curtis gambles, too, although more on the people in his life, strangers included, than on actual games.
Pleasantly Plot-light and atmosphere-heavy through most of its 108 minutes, Mississippi Grind turns the tables and indulges in a flurry of dramatic twists in its final quarter. Most of them work but chiefly as exclamation points on an unnerving, intimate character study. As Curtis is quick to point out during the twosome’s road jaunt through St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans, it is the journey that counts not the destination.