Friday, September 5, 2008

Black Snake Moan (Movie Review)

First off, I wasn’t expecting Justin Timberlake. I’m coming into this movie knowing two things and two things only. First, it stars Christina Ricci and Sam Jackson, and second, at some point Sam keeps Christina chained up in the yard.

So yeah, there’s Justin Timberlake in his cammos, lookin’ like he’s shippin’ out. I like Justin Timberlake. There. I said it, and it’s on the interwebs, so I can’t take it back. I like about half of his music, and I’ve enjoyed what little acting I’ve seen him do (Saturday Night Live and some movie with Sarah Michelle Gellar and The Rock).

Ah, Sam Jackson. Regardless of his haircut or whatever facial hair he might have, however he’s dressed, whatever type of character he’s supposed to be playing, he is always the same. I don’t mind that, though. While it could be argued that Pulp Fiction is the best thing he’s ever done or been in, I still enjoy him as an actor. A blues singer, though, not so much.

I also can’t pass up a decent Christina Ricci movie, providing it ain’t too weird. I find her oddly alluring, big forehead and all. She’s very white trash in this movie.

First and foremost, this is a movie about redemption, about facing down your demons and walking away, maybe not unscathed, but walking away a little better for having done it. Other than a preacher and the Lt. from Law & Order, everybody in this movie is screwed up somehow.

Christina’s character, Rae, has an abusive past that leaves her a sexual addict. Not a girl who likes to have sex a lot, but a girl who NEEDS it, who starts having withdrawal symptoms if she goes too long without it.

Sam Jackson’s character, Lazarus, is a former blues guitarist, a farmer, and a drunk whose wife left him for his brother. He finds Rae one morning lying in the road in front of his house. She was stoned, beaten, almost raped, and kicked out of pickup truck. Lazarus is of course concerned and wants to help this poor girl, so he takes her inside, cleans her wounds, gets some medicine for her cough, and then chains her to the radiator. Good fun!

I don’t know if I can really recommend this movie in good conscience. I don’t feel like I wasted two hours by watching it, but I figure others might feel that way. I realize that redemption shouldn’t be an easy road to walk, but damn, Lazarus and Rae sure don’t take any shortcuts. If you do end up watching it, be prepared to slog through some rough shit, some juvenile, high-school, misogynistic shit, before getting to any semblance of a movie that might be worth something. You’ll see Christina Ricci’s tits, you’ll see some attempted rape, a bit of drug use, some light kidnapping, and some bondage with a big-ass chain. But there is some hope. And that’s what we’re left with. Not a handful of fully healed people, but some people who are on their way to being healed.


Kate said...

Boy. I argued with my friend Luke for hours about this one (and do note that he's seen it and I have not.) I really feel that the sort of masochistic near-anti-feminist-ism of it overrides the actual movie. (And with a tagline like "Everything's Hotter In The South" I have a real hard time believing it's about redemption. But again, I haven't seen it.

Rob Rosenblatt said...

I think that Lazarus's heart was in the right place, and I realize why he felt he had to chain Rae up, but really, he couldn't think of anything better, anything a tad less degrading than actually chaining her to the radiator? And maybe redemption was the wrong word to use. The more I think about it, the more I think it was about Hope. Rae and Timberlake's character end up getting married (which they apparently did right after he was discharged from the military due to anxiety attacks caused by loud noises, and within hours of being back attempted to kill Lazarus) to me seemed to be the wrong solution to the problems they each had. But as they're driving away, we see that there's hope for Lazarus, that he may have found love again (Lt. from Law & Order) and he may go back to church. And while the newly-weds are driving down the interstate, Timberlake's character has another anxiety attack, which causes Rae to start getting the urges again. But she reigns it in and comforts him. Their problems haven't miraculously disappeared, but there's hope for those two crazy kids.

Kate said...

Again...having not seen it, I'm probably not the one to comment (sorry), though really there must be better ways to deal with any sort of, well, anything, than chaining the girl up to a radiator. Or whatever it was.

I need to get Luke over here to chat with you. He liked the film. And Christina Ricci, I believe.

Rob Rosenblatt said...

Feel free. It'd be nice to have someone I didn't know actually reading the blog.