A sweet, supremely enjoyable road movie from the makers of ‘Half Nelson’, ‘Mississippi Grind’ could be confused for one of ‘Sideways’ director Alexander Payne’s wounded comedies, albeit one with higher stakes and a more shambolic air. Ben Mendelsohn is Gerry, a divorced 44-year-old gambling junkie looking for a magic ticket out of his addiction. One night at the Iowa casino where he fritters away his cash, he meets an amiable young stranger named Curtis (Ryan Reynolds), and convinces his carefree new friend to bankroll him on a poker trip down the Mississippi.
Each man is gambling with loneliness, Curtis afraid to put his chips on the table and settle down with his prostitute girlfriend (Sienna Miller) and Gerry afraid to break the inertia of his addiction and be forced to reckon with the choices he’s made. Both men are defined by their mutual desire to go nowhere, but they take a palpable pleasure in each other’s company, and you can feel how threatening it is for them when urgency creeps in and a plot begins to take shape.