SAMUEL L JACKSON (Pulp Fiction, Coach Carter, Shaft), Christina Ricci (Sleepy
Hollow) and inter-national pop icon Justin Timberlake star in Craig Brewer's
Black Snake Moan a smouldering, blues-driven tale of redemption.
A some-times traumatic but exceedingly watchable vision of other people's
lives, Black Snake Moan is a brilliant film, one that keeps you on a
see-saw of emotion as you are confronted by the very human behaviour of damaged
When Lazarus (Jackson) finds the town nymphomaniac Rae (Ricci being nothing
short of magnificent) half naked, beaten unconscious and left for dead at the
side of the road, the God-fearing, middle-aged black man takes her under his
wing and nurses her back to health.
His unwavering determination to purge her of her sinful addictions
leads him to a war of wills to keep her in his home before he imprisons her
and chains her to a radiator.
Jackson and Ricci deliver sizzling, sympathetic and totally believable performances
as Lazarus a bitter and broken ex-blues musician whose wife has left
him for his own brother and the compulsive sex addict and pill-pusher
Rae. Justin Timberlake plays Rae's protective roughneck soldier boyfriend Ronnie
with equal intensity as we witness his struggle with the traumatic effects of
the Iraq war a war to which he is forced to return, leaving the stricken
Rae alone with the dark shadows that torment her.
Held back by their past and unable to shake themselves free of the ghosts that
haunt them, the three tortured souls attempt to find peace from their demons.
As the sadness of each unfolds, there is
also hope and love in the support the three are able to give.
Rae is sassy, confrontational, obnoxious yet provocative. Sometimes Black
Snake Moan is painful to watch, but a particularly revealing scene is Rae's
furious assault on her mother and Lazarus's calming influence on her.
Rae and Lazarus begin to communicate and to understand each other and their
relationship is touching especially as Lazarus sings Rae
his blues songs that includes Black Snake Moan, which gives the film
its title. But when Ronnie returns and comes searching for his missing lover,
the situation threatens to explode into violence.
A purposeful, big-hearted film that is raw in its disclosure of the dam-age
done to the three lead characters but never glories in the past actions and
sufferings that have caused that damage. Everyone who worked on this film deserves
credit because it is poignant, effective and strongly compelling. Black Snake
Moan may also help those going through similar problems understand themselves
better by showing why Rae, Ronnie and Lazarus behave the way they do.
Supporting characters worthy of note and exceptionally well introduced are:
Angela, played by S Epatha Merkerson; The Reverend R L, played by John Cothran
and (surprisingly) Tehronne, played by rapper David Banner. The great drummer
Willie Hall also has a small part.
Black Snake Moan is a terrific film. It is cleverly put together with
a very brave storyline and a positive conclusion.
This very affecting tale of love, loss and redemption is the third feature by
writer/director Craig Brewer. His first film, Hustle & Flow, won an Academy
Award for Best Song and the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award. A Paramount
Vantage production, Black Snake Moan is produced by John Singleton and
Stephanie Allain who were also responsible for Hustle & Flow.
Black Snake Moan is out now on DVD
and is loaded with special feat-ures that include interviews with the cast,
a commentary by Craig Brewer, deleted scenes and a photo gallery. Starring Samuel
L Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake, the DVD is from Paramount
Home Entertainment with Dolby Digital Surround. Running time is 116 minutes
and the RRP is £15.99.