Black Snake Moan

Dir: Craig Brewer. 2007. Starring: Christina Ricci, Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake. English. Cult.
Black Snake Moan

Black Snake Moan opens in the deep, poor South, as “Ronnie” (Timmerlake) leaves to join the Coast Guard. He leaves, in his wake, his white trash girlfriend, “Rae” (Ricci) -  a young woman of dubious morals. As soon as his bus has left, Rae falls under “the sickness” and spreads her legs all over the small town. She is left for dead in the middle of the rural countryside, and found by a God-fearing former blues man turned farmer named “Lazarus” (Jackson). He nurses her back to health, keeping her hostage in hopes of curing her wicked ways, with the help of the Lord. In her salvation from sin, he hopes it will also be his own.

This is truly a unique, bizarre, and well-crafted story about a very specific slice of life. Although it takes place in present day, the film feels almost like a work of the 1970s.

Christina Ricci (Monster) steals the show in one of her most aggressive and fearless performances. Only dressed in a t-shirt and panties for most of the film, Ricci manages to redefine the White Trash American goddess. Sam Jackson (Pulp Fiction) gives Lazarus the depth of real person, true of the earth, with plenty of faults to go around. Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog) is adequate as Ronnie, although he has shined more in some of his other roles.

Craig Brewer’s direction was daft, but never overbearing. The production design really captures the bleak poverty that still exists in this country. The editing is one of the film’s major strengths, mainly in interesting and inventive ways of cutting to represent Rae’s nymphomania. The soundtrack is strong, with some catchy blues numbers. And the script is fresh and genuine, with great use of southern slang. Between this and Hustle & Flow, Brewer is certainly a writer-director on the rise and one worth keeping watching.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Aug 11, 2008 3:18pm
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