'Black Snake Moan' scores high with reviewers
March 8, 2007
A question came to me prior to viewing the new movie, “Black Snake Moan.” Does the idea of a petite nymphomaniac (half-naked Christina Ricci) chained up in a house of an old man sell in the box office? The fact that the idea does sell does not make the movie misogynistic, but rather appealing to a sex-crazed nation. With a sultry Ricci and a preacher-like Samuel L. Jackson, the movie will squeeze out more noises from viewers than just a moan.
A hot sex scene with Ricci and Justin Timberlake appropriately starts out the film spewing the feeling of longing and sweat all over the place. With a tagline like, “Everything is hotter down south,” it’s hard not to feel like you’d want to tear your clothes off. Ricci shows, repeatedly, that this feeling is uncontrollable.
Ronnie (Timberlake) leaves Rae (Ricci) for the National Guard, but unfortunately Rae has a condition that Ronnie has always been able to help Rae battle. We’ll just call this condition “nymphomania.”
When a drugged Rae gets beaten up and left for dead on the side of the road, an old holy man, Lazarus (Jackson), finds her and brings her into his custody. After witnessing what a serious need of a hot beef injection can do to a girl, he chains her up in his house attempting to expel the devil in her.
Ricci and Jackson fit their reputable characters and their on-screen relationship shines. While these two characters developed and acted well, Timberlake, as Rae’s boyfriend, failed to impress. Every scene he appeared in made me want to moan, in the disgusted way.
If there is anything I adored about this movie besides the high intensity sex craving, it was the soundtrack. Jackson’s singing and guitar strumming of seductive blues was hot enough for one to melt into the stained fabrics of their reclining movie theater chair.
With a steamy theme song “When the Lights Go Out” by The Black Keys, it sets the mood of a little known sexy South.
There are other ways to view this film, of course. I took the provocative route whereas others may see this as a race piece. Lazarus mentions once that a black man can’t just turn in a beaten white woman. Also, Tyrone, the “big black man” brags that she just needs “the real thing.”
You could also view this as a psychological film. This aspect is what made the movie respectful because it portrayed a real loving relationship, but represented its messed-up qualities also. Ronnie suffers from anxiety attacks and Rae suffers from child abuse repercussions. Although they had little in common, they still needed each other more than they needed anyone else.
In the end, Lazarus drops the “God said this” lecture and tells them “Ya gotta get your shit together and then go live your life.”
You may wish there were more to the story than Ricci groping herself, but I trust you will still leave thinking “Oh baby” over and over.
Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.