DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Black Snake Moan - Review

Black Snake Moan (15)
Dir. Craig Brewer

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“I think... I think we’re f*cked up. I know I am. But that don't mean what I feel ain't real, that I can't love somebody. And I know what I done is real real bad, but um... … …
If you want to quit on me I understand….
But please don't.”

You look at the poster for Black Snake Moan and can’t quite believe what you see – is that a hot young white girl (Christina Ricci) chained up by grizzly looking black guy (Samuel L. Jackson)? Yes, yes it is…
And then maybe you see the trailer which features lots of Ricci wearing only a cut off t-shirt and skimpy panties whilst apparently spending the movie chained to Jackson’s radiator somewhere in the Deep South… Surely this must be some kind of dodgy, seedy exploitation flick – I thought perhaps I should investigate and report back to ahem ‘warn’ others about how dangerously depraved this film might be.
Then I read my esteemed film reviewer pal Bina’s review where she describes Black Snake Moan as: “a desperately sweet movie about unexpected friendship and redemption through the awesome medium of blues music… As emotional journeys go, Christina Ricci gives the performance of her career, and perhaps of the year.” And she’s right actually, well kind of…

There is a ton of misogynistic leering camerawork and probably more nymphomania, domestic style violence, swearing and random infidelity than will feature in any other film released this year but amazingly all that filth simply serves up the arena for a tale of true love and the painful confrontation of inner demons…
Black Snake Moan is the tale of Rae – a cute white trash nympho (played with sheer conviction by Ricci) who gets into all kinds of bother when her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) joins up and is posted off to Iraq. Before you can say ‘I wonder if she’ll stay faithful’ Rae is taking all comers trying to sate her turbo charged carnal appetites with any bloke who looks at her. This is a self-destructive young woman whose dangerous sexual hunger is a result of childhood abuse. It’s not long before she’s being beaten and left for dead in some country road – only to be found and taken in by blues aficionado Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson).
As a Christian I was interested in Lazarus’s character – his motivation for chaining up his new young charge is to cleanse her of her ‘wickedness’. Can bible based benevolence save a wanton wild child such as her? Is there hope of redemption for a Lazarus’s broken spirit through his unorthodox attempt at chaste resurrection for his ‘captive’? Apparently there is – although I don’t think the ‘chaining people to radiators form of therapy’ is likely to catch on.

Black Snake Moan might be raw, exploitive and dripping sweaty heat from every pore but it also exhibits tenderness towards its protagonists and if you stay the course, you’ll leave the film having been challenged about relationships and self worth. Oh and Timberlake is great in his weak dysfunctional role which is a million miles away from his tough kid persona in Alpha Dog – damn it looks like he’s actually turning out to be decent actor…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö – beatings and shaggings and bible readings etc
Laughs öö – limited mirth
Horror ööö – disturbing in parts
Babes öööö – Ricci is a sensation

Overall ööö1/2 (more to it than meets the eye)

"Christina Ricci - trying the Daisy Duke look"

Darkmatters: H O M E
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