Film Reviews

BLACK SNAKE MOAN

By • Mar 2nd, 2007 •

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Paramount Vantage / New Deal Prods. / Southern Cross the Dog Prods
115 minutes

Vulgar and salacious. If this is what you like, this is the movie for you.

Rae (Christina Ricci) is the town tramp and damn proud of it, thank you very much! A white trash sex addict who, 2 hours after her dimwitted, but devoted, boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) leaves for the military, starts screwing around. Rae just can’t go for 2 hours without throwing off her tiny clothes and having sex. Anybody in pants will do. Her vagina is on fire! She starts shaking when this sex fever comes over her. She is either epileptic or she is possessed by Satan! After a nude, drug-induced game of football, Ronnie’s buddy picks her up. Rae laughs at his advances, so he punches her unconscious and dumps her semi-naked on the side of the road.

Bitter, betrayed, and lonely farmer Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) finds Rae. She is a bloody mess in a thong. Lazarus’ wife of 11 years has grown to hate him. She has run off with his brother. Instead of calling the police or taking Rae to the hospital, Lazarus decides to nurse her back to health and heal her of her evil.

He’s a dirt farmer exorcist!

When Rae wakes up and tries to leave, he gives her a bath. Then he takes a thick chain and, putting one end to the radiator and the other around Rae’s naked waist, locks Rae up like a dog.

Instead of preaching deliverance, Lazarus buys her a few dresses and sings the blues.

Lazarus needs help himself and should be at his church forgiving his brother and his wife. What will Rae do for Lazarus? She gets him to return to the blues. He pulls together the band and goes with Rae to the local dive bar.

Rae, in a dance frenzy, starts screaming in tongues. She lap dances with old men, young guys, and girls. Approving of her depossession and return to wholesomeness, Lazarus takes Rae home and gives her another bath. This time she is naked.

They could be happy together, but troubled Ronnie has been kicked out of boot camp and, finding Rae’s ecstatic nightclubbing redemption a tad too kinky even for her, follows them home.

Because Lazarus is a man of God he does not want to have sex with Rae, but Jackson cannot appear impotent or sexless (after all, he’s a movie star!), so Jackson acts as if every scene with Rae was a prelude to rough sex.

Christina Ricci looks terrific and sexy. Her unusually high forehead is hidden and her bulging eyes are gone. Ricci is a fearless actress and she dominates BLACK SNAKE MOAN. This is the role Ricci needs to free her from indie films and become a sexy actress. (I loved Ricci in MONSTER.) Screenwriter-director Craig Brewer loves this kind of whore. Remember Taryn Manning in HUSTLE & FLOW? Once again, Justin Timberlake (ALPHA DOG) gives a strong, emotional performance. Granted, Ronnie is an idiot and his story is implausible, but that is one of the many flaws of Brewer’s screenplay.

I loved HUSTLE & FLOW, but BLACK SNAKE MOAN is white trash deluxe. Yes, I got a voyeuristic thrill out of it with all the nudity, sweat, and dirt. Throw in the beatings and the chain and you got yourself a good time in the old South! But, seeing Rae spend much of the movie in a thong – Lazarus didn’t have one of his work shirts to lend her – was offensive. And Rae shaking with the sex fever? Is that a medical condition or Brewer’s male fantasy unleashed on the audience?

Okay, I’ll say it. There was too much singing and not enough praying.


Credits:
Screenwriter-director: Craig Brewer
Producer: John Singleton, Stephanie Allain
Director of photography: Amelia Vincent
Production designer: Keith Brian Burns
Music: Scott Bomar
Costume designer: Paul A. Simmons
Editor: Billy Cox

Cast:
Lazarus: Samuel L. Jackson
Rae: Christina Ricci
Ronnie: Justin Timberlake
Angela: S. Epatha Merkerson
Preacher R.L.: John Cothran
Gil: Michael Raymond-James
Sandy: Kim Richards
Tehronne: David Banner

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