Well, it’s finally Friday, which means that it’s time, once again, to delve into that wretched hive of scum and villainy, the Netflix online selection. This week, we’ll take a look at a film that I’d always heard good things about, but had never actually seen until recently. Black Snake Moan, directed by Craig Brewer, is arguably the best example of his work to date. Highly sexualized and intentionally provocative at times, Black Snake Moan explores the relationship between two individuals from opposite worlds as they share their suffering after being thrust together by a twist of fate.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci and including a cameo appearance by Justin Timberlake, the film follows the story of deeply religious Lazarus (Jackson) who finds sex addict Rae (Ricci) badly beaten and near death on the side of the road. Believing that it is his moral obligation to cure Rae of her sinful ways, Lazarus chains her to his radiator until she can prove to him that she has overcome her promiscuousness. What follows is a descent into the pent-up and suppressed suffering of both individuals and ultimately, they deliverance that they didn’t know they needed.
Jackson shines as the outwardly friendly but internally shaken Lazarus and performances can generally be commended all around. The surprising thing about Black Snake Moan, however, is that while the sexualization becomes almost fetishistic to a degree, it’s always done tastefully and adds weight to the story, rather than being a crass gimmick. Likewise, there is a gratifying amount of thematic subtlety to be found beneath the intentionally superficial sex. The soundtrack, likewise, is phenomenal, and plays heavily off of the bluesy influence of the deep south. If you’re looking for something a little different, yet still supremely satisfying, you could certainly do worse than Black Snake Moan.
Rating: 4 out of 5