There's a sad shuffle in cheap white sneakers quality that Ben Mendelsohn captures in Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden's grandly observational gambling film Mississippi Grind that reminded me of my father - of men in small places stuck in their own sad small ways. How Mendelsohn managed to over-take that mental connection I made early on and dance himself right around it (usually if a movie reminds me of my father I want nothing more than to run run run away) is one for the record books -- this is saying a lot in a career like Ben Mendolsohn's but this might be his greatest performance (so far; he's not slowing down). It's definitely the greatest that I've seen of his, and I haven't seen enough but I've already seen enough to know that, if you know what I mean. He's one of the best actors working today and Mississippi Grind let's him get to it, and oh what a time it is.
Thing is Ryan Reynolds of all people is standing right there beside him and probably giving his best performance too -- that's what Ben does, he carries us all, audience member and abs-rocking Superman, alongside for the ride. And somebody stop the presses, Sienna Miller's there too! It's like a stacked deck of actors I've been unimpressed by surfing on Mendelsohn's generous spirit (and Fleck & Boden's wise script and way around airing a scene out in the best manner possible) to unexpected greatness.
I don't really like gambling movies in general - I have absolutely no interest in gambling; life feels like enough of a gamble every day I get up, thank you very much - but Mississippi Grind doesn't care whether I know if a straight flush is a hand of cards or a bathroom exercise, all Mississippi Grind wants to do is set me down and tell me a straight story, in super capable hands, and I double down on it - this is a bingo, my friends.
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