“We can’t lose.”
Mississippi Grind captures a feeling of casual recklessness that, when embraced in youth, is edifying and exciting. When that same recklessness is embraced by a mid 40s gambling addict, it’s despairing. But, somehow, the movie manages to make Gerry’s middle-aged, addiction-riddled spiral feel like nothing more than youthful recklessness. I think this is largely due to the reassuring presence of Gerry’s counterpart, Ryan Reynolds’s mysterious character.
I mostly enjoyed the absolute lack of metaphor in the movie. It is a simple story, brutal at times, but without posturing or lecturing. A guy who needs money and can’t help himself drives to New Orleans to hit it big. Nothing is a proxy for something else. The narrative simply unfolds, and it tells itself without the ironic winking or nudging that seems to accompany every other movie today. Maybe you can only get away with such an utter lack of metaphor or symbolism when the primary thematic components are greed, loss, curiosity, and companionship— fundamental elements of the human experience.