Jul 2008 31

Black Snake Moan (2007)

Black Snake Moan is the title of a movie starring, Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, and Justin Timberlake. This sexually provocative film was directed by Craig Brewer, famous or infamous for Hustle and Flow which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005.

Black Snake Moan is provocative on many levels—sexually, intellectually, and morally—with sexual overtones and undertones that tend to dominate a film that actually has some artistic merit. The power of the title itself leaves little to the imagination. And the lurid marketing posters for the movie depict the female star, Christina Ricci, as Rae, scantily dressed, or undressed – kneeling and chained to the male lead–Samuel L. Jackson as Lazarus. Pop Idol Justin Timberlake rounds out the equation of main actors as Ronnie — and happens to be the live-in boy friend who just left for the Army and probably Iraq.

Rae, by the way Christina Ricci is in top acting form and in top physical form as well. She is eye-candy throughout the film, but her passionate representation of child, now a woman who was sexually abused as a youngster—is not try to cope with the psychological damage done to her self-worth. When Lazarus first encounters Rea, she is unconscious, lying on a dirt road, in panties and a micro-T-shirt—half beaten to death. Lazarus is a religious man and tends to her injuries and helps her back to health.

The idea of chaining Rae was to keep her from harming herself. Lazarus asked around and has discovered that Rae “has to have it”, and has pretty much had sexual relations with most of the men, young and old in town. The black snake that causes the moan is what it is and evokes the lightning rod dynamic of sexual liaisons among the races. In this case between black men and white women. Director Craig Brewer chose to put that visual upfront and seemed to want to go down that road with gusto. The drama actually does go down that road but recovers in an interesting way and affords Jackson AKA Lazarus the opportunity to exercise his acting chops. Yes, he’s human, and the scene is there and is hot and steamy… and stop reading here if you do not want to know what happens next because your inner voyeur demands that you see it for yourself.

Without giving much more away Lazarus does present Rae with a lightning Rod of moral fiber. Unfortunately, Ronnie is suddenly back and is looking for his Rae only to find the Black Lightning Rod now in the picture with Rae. The action picks up here and someone is going to get hurt. Black Snake Moan underscores the power of loose women; old Southern whiskey meets those that carry the Good Book, with a little Blues guitar playing by Lazarus thrown in for effect. Rae does get some satisfaction to ward off the devil in her dreams, in a scene where she beats down the woman who ignored her cries for help as a child being sexually abused by her father. Naturally, the father is no where around to get beat down so the mother will do. It’s also a powerful message to those who see or know of something that is just wrong but do nothing about it. Think about that on any level you choose.

Black Snake Moan lives up to its marketing and then some. Actors Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci are convincing and emotionally connected in a mutually benefiting way. It goes to show that a good man can resist temptation and a troubled woman can find resources to get back on the straight and narrow path to a happier more fulfilling life regardless of the odds working against them. The movie is worth seeing for the reality check it provides the viewer. Also, who doesn’t want to see Christina Ricci chained up to prevent her from becoming the sexual she wolf she seems to moan about? And, who doesn’t want to see Samuel L. Jackson act like he is above getting down and dirty with what appears to be a freebee with a real hottee. Now that’s acting and there should be an award for it. See you at the movies.



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