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This is a warning post to those on psychotropic meds, anxyolitics, or CBD products promising calm mind and body.

DO NOT watch Mississippi Grind, a 2015 soul-crushing journey into the mind of a confirmed gambling addict.

DO watch Mississippi Grind, if a walk through the professional performances of Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds are worth the time. And they are.

Mendelsohn is Gerry, a career gambling addict. Reynolds a career gambler. Two polar opposites in terms of personality. Reynolds, as Curtis, is outgoing, a gregarious blab who won't shut up around the poker table. Just when you think he's going to get punched or shot, the players start to like him and he settles in.

Gerry is introverted. Dialogue exchanges with people he's known for years are relegated to one line each. He lives in the poker rooms of Iowa. Dubuque specifically.

His habit of not being able to walk away from a table when way ahead, or to leave the dog track after a big win, has him in the grip of The Big Game of Chance.

They meet at a poker tourney. It appears Curtis is working both sides of Gerry. He advises him on more than one occasion to take his winnings and leave. On others, he goads Gerry into sticking around just long enough to lose all the money. This is the mechanism that controls the narrative.

And as the boys join for a "Buddy" part of the movie, a road trip to New Orleans, where Curtis swears he is NOT going to play poker, the viewer knows that he is.

And the viewer can also see what is going to become of Gerry, along for the ride.

There's a wonderful turn by the underappreciated Alfre Woodard, who (like Curtis) starts off her scenes as Gerry's friend. But this bookie/loan shark in stylish clothes is all shark and no guppy. She'd just as soon leave his body parts in the Mississippi as buy him lunch at the diner.

Mississippi Grind is about acting. It's not upbeat, positive, or uplifting. The film is not even as hopeful as Barfly, another movie about the death grip of addiction.

Watch, as the cliche goes, at your own peril.


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