Black Snake Moan

Craig Brewer

BY Cam LindsayPublished Jun 25, 2007

As producer John Singleton points out in the "making of” featurette, Black Snake Moan features a pretty dangerous idea for a movie. In the Deep South of Mississippi, of all places, an older black man chains a young, half-naked white woman to a radiator after finding her beaten and bruised on the side of the road. While that is the impression many will get from this film, which, technically, isn’t inaccurate, Craig Brewer’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Hustle & Flow is a bizarre tale of healing, and as the director himself admits, "facing and owning your fears.” Samuel L. Jackson plays Lazarus, a browbeaten veggie farmer whose wife leaves him for his brother. Christina Ricci is Rae, a directionless nymphomaniac whose boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) leaves to join the army. After a night of drug use and drinking, Rae is assaulted and left for dead on a dirt road, which cues the bonding for these two lost souls. Though it begins rather risqué, Black Snake Moan doesn’t take long to blossom into a sort of love story for two people in serious need of redemption. The relationship between Laz and Rae is never sexual — though she does try to jump his bones when she first regains consciousness — and it’s this spiritual awakening that makes this film such a spectacle. Jackson and Ricci both put their hearts and souls into their performances, and Brewer’s script is not only an inspiringly personal triumph but is rich with provocative comedy. As well, his use of vintage interview footage with old blues man Son House is an effective measure in helping explicate the heavy mood and complications of the film. The aforementioned featurette is fully loaded, interviewing everyone involved in the film and covering every inch of the film, from the colourful title (a Skip James song) to Jackson learning how to play the guitar to Ricci deciding on her chain to Brewer admitting the film was a religious exploration, on his part. Music fans will enjoy another featurette exploring the film’s connection to the blues, as the crew go down to Mississippi to hang out and record with the cream of Fat Possum’s roster, while the deleted scenes actually give more insight into the film, such as the first meeting between Rae and Ronnie and some juicy news about Laz’s wife. Plus: commentary.
(Paramount Pictures)

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