Published Feb 28, 2007It is a problem when a film (or a story or anyone really) makes a statement like, "a woman who likes to/wants to/needs to have sex is sick and must be cured and is not being ironic. The latest film from Craig Brewer (of Hustle and Flow fame), Black Snake Moan is confidently exploitative and unselfconsciously literal. Though the writer-director has stated, "its not about Sam Jackson curing Christina of nymphomania, it is a perfectly apt description of the storys central plot.
Christina Ricci plays Rae, a young girl who ferociously and self-destructively sleeps with anyone and everything (there is a running joke that shed even fuck a tree if it would have her), who goes especially wild when her boyfriend (played by the MTV-trained Justin Timberlake) leaves her to join the army. Samuel L. Jackson is Lazarus, a weary old blues musician who "cures her of her wickedness, acting as an intermediary between her past and her redemption.
Ricci did a great deal of research on sexually abused women to prepare for the role, as we discover later in the film that Rae was repeatedly raped by her step-father and lived with a mother who refused to acknowledge his actions. However, this psychological motivation feels artificially inserted and is ultimately overshadowed by the blatant imagery of a sick girl (literally, Ricci is hacking through the first half of the film) who is all better once she gets herself into a wedding dress and commits to one guy, of an undomesticated girl who actually benefits from being locked up (literally, Ricci is tied up in a 40-pound chain by her keeper), of a girl who instead of receiving a ring on her wedding day has her man link a delicate string of gold around her waist (more symbolic than literal that one).
Black Snake Moan asks you to be sensitive to the story of a girl who harmfully engages in self-exploitation. Its creators also ensured that Christina Ricci remain in white panties and a torn, cropped T-shirt for most of the film. She looks really hot. (Paramount Vantage)