God, sex and the blues are mashed together and deep fried southern style in Craig Brewer’s unique Black Snake Moan.
Featuring two of the finest performances of the year, Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci both deliver down and gritty interpretations of two broken souls trying to find redemption through one another; Jackson has not been better in years and is also very impressive as a blues guitarist/vocalist, while Ricci plays the embodiment of temptation in a high charged erotic performance.
Jackson plays Lazarus, a God fearing blues man whose wife had just left him for his brother. Ricci co-stars as Rae, a trailer trash nymphomaniac and a victim of child abuse. When her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) leaves to join the army, Rae’s wild urges take over in a night of drunken debauchery.
The next day she is found by Lazarus battered and bruised on the side of the road. Believing that God has put her in his path, Lazarus sets out to cure Rae of her wickedness and help her change her ways using the power of love to heal old wounds.
Many believe that Black Snake Moan is nothing more than an exploitation picture featuring a girl chained to a radiator, but it is much deeper than that. It is a haunting piece of southern gothic pulp which is backed by a great soundtrack, choice direction and eerily beautiful cinematography by Amy Vincent.
The only major downside is the unfortunate casting of Justin Timberlake, whose naïve attempts to make it as an actor has once again back fired, slightly bringing down the quality of the picture with him.
Regardless, Black Snake Moan is a great film full of great characters and rich visuals, an original achievement that cannot be duplicated, will stand the test of time, and is sure to reach cult status.