Saturday, March 3, 2007

Black Snake Moan Review

Director Craig Brewer's most recent serves a fine taste of the south, a hearty taste of the blues, and the occasional taste of brilliance.

Black Snake Moan is a film that isn't easily lumped into any specific genre. The movie shares elements found all over the world of film and lumps them all together, creating unique picture that's inevitably quite interesting. For starters, Craig Brewer decided to shoot a large portion of this film as a character drama, letting the performances dominate many of the shots and making sure that his film making didn't distract the viewer. That's only a portion of the film though. Black Snake Moan is unorthodox because it incorporates aspects from dramas, musicals, and psychological thrillers to create the the feeling and mood found in the film.

The premise for the movie is fairly simple. A nymphomaniac simply known as Rae is found unconscious on the side of the road by a withering bluesman named Lazarus who takes her in, hoping to cure her of her addiction to sex. Lazarus, who is played by Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane), finds the only way to help the girl is to chain her to his radiator, preventing her from leaving his home. Now, this act seems barbaric and harsh but it works well in the film and you understand what would motivate Lazarus to do such an obscure thing to a woman.

The performances from Sam Jackson and Christina Ricci (Prozac Nation, Sleepy Hollow), who plays Rae, are pretty amazing and keep you gripped throughout the duration of the flick. Jackson does an excellent job playing an often firm yet gentle man and you can see that his character has made sacrifices earlier in his life without the film going into any detail. Ricci is also top-notch. She plays an extremely intense character who seems to have a soft side hidden beneath her shell that she's afraid will leak out. Some of the scenes with Rae are downright scary as her addiction takes over and she's on the verge of exploding. Justin Timberlake is also in the film, playing Rae's boyfriend who's initially shipped off to Iraq. He does an alright job but is nothing spectacular, although I couldn't stop thinking "bye bye bye" whenever I saw his face.

Another highlight of the film was Brewer's use of music. As I mentioned above, a large portion of the film relies on music to get its point across and the scenes where tunes took the forefront were easily the best in my opinion. Sam Jackson did all of his own music for the film, both guitar and lyrics, and it fits extremely well and feels gritty and raw. I'm really contemplating picking up the soundtrack for Black Snake Moan just because the music was so powerful and well done.

The only complaint I have about Black Snake Moan is that I feel it could have been wrapped up in a better fashion than it was. The film leaves a little bit of the story open for interpretation, which I enjoy, but I felt as if the ending was a bit cliche. It worked fairly well with the film but I would have loved to see it interpreted in a fashion with a little less cheese.

Black Snake Moan
was well worth the price of admission and I can't wait until it hits DVD so I can take it all in again. Both Jackson and Ricci's performances were top-notch and the music in the film really struck a chord. I can't wait to check out Craig Brewer's next film as he has really been striking up quite a career for himself.

One Sentence Review: You'll go for the story but stay for the music, Black Snake Moan is worth checking out.


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