Black Snake Moan Review

[note: this is part of my film journal for class, and I’m posting it on our class site as well.]

Black Snake MoanBlack Snake Moan movie is up for release in theaters March 2nd. If you’re ok with rated R movies – I’d say go see it. I was a bit nervous walking into it at Sundance after seeing the poster, yet it was one of the most powerful experiences of the week.

It’s a movie about sin, and the only thing more powerful: unconditional love. Christina Ricci plays a southern girl, Rae, with a sex addition who’s left alone as her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) leaves for the army. Lazurus (Samuel L. Jackson) is a well-respected blues musician in their southern small town who finds Rae on the side of the road beat up after a rough night of partying and promiscuity. He takes her in to tend to her physical wounds and ends up mending the emotional and spiritual wounds as well, albeit in a very unconventional way: a chain around Ricci’s wait.

It’s an incredible story that dares to look at Ricci’s out of control and taboo sin, and then poses the question of healing and care. While there’s danger in the chain being taken as exploitive, there is more depth to the film as you see Rae start to cling to the chain and her relationship with Lazurus. Finally with healthy boundaries and safety from her past abuse and developed patterns, Rae finds respite.

Now, what could that chain be a metaphor for?

In the Q&A after the film, director Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow, 2000) actually said he almost wanted to put a church bell clang behind the chain clank. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He openly talked about the bible and asked how God must have felt about Adam and Eve’s sin. What do you do when you’re filled with sin?

Ricci said it best when asked if she thought her character needed to be fixed. I will never forget her answer: no, she didn’t need to be fixed but, “needed someone to show her appropriate love; unconditional love.”

Bingo.

p.s. I don’t know much about music or the blues, but the soundtrack on this is going to be killer.

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