by Seamus Smith
Director: Craig Brewer
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, & Justin Timberlake
Original Release Date: 2006
Scores: Technical: 90, Story: 85, Acting: 85, Overall Score: 85
Black Snake Moan opens in the deep, poor South, as Ronnie (Timmerlake) leaves to join the Coastguard. Left behind his white trash girlfriend, Rae (Ricci), a lady of loose morals. As soon as his bus has left, Rae falls under â€œthe sicknessâ€, and racks up many notches on bedposts all over 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 captive to cure her of her wicked ways, in hopes that her salvation, will also be his own.
This was truly a unique, bizarre, and well-crafted story about a very specific slice of life. Christina Ricci steals the show in one of her most aggressive and fearless roles. Only dressed in a tee shirt and panties for most of the film, Ricci manages to redefine the White Trash goddess. Sam Jackson didnâ€™t phone it in this time, making Lazarus feel like a fresh character, true of the earth.
Craig Brewerâ€™s direction was daft, but never overbearing. The editing was one of the strengths, mainly in some of inventive cuts to interperate Raeâ€™s nymphomania. The script was fresh and genuine, with some great use of southern slang. Between this and Hustle & Flow, Brewer is certainly a writer-director to keep your eye on.
The only complains I generally had with Black Snake Moan are these two. Although the blues tunes were good, the sub par sound mix for Sam Jacksonâ€™s vocals, made their affect less than potential. The other weak point was Timberlakeâ€™s stiff performance, which played as stagy at times. I believe he has a promising future in movies, but a better performance can be found in Nick Cassavetesâ€™ Alpha Dog.