Black Snake Moan: Everything is Hotter Down South (2007)

Posted: March 23, 2011 in Drama

Lazarus is a god-fearing man who lives a simple life, focused on tending to his crops and enjoying the pleasures of blues music. While driving home on day, he finds local town tramp, Rae, beaten and left on the side of the road. Taking her in and trying to heal her, he discovers that she suffers from an uncontrollable urge to seek out sex. Chaining her up in the house during her recovery, the unlikely pair connect over small but meaningful interactions as he tries to channel his spiritual background to help Rae get her cravings under control and find meaning in her life. Meanwhile, her boyfriend returns from a tour of duty and does not know or understand any of the vents that occurred during his absence.

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson (Lazarus), Christina Ricci (Rae), Justin Timberlake (Ronnie), S. Epatha Merkerson (Angela), John Cothran Jr. (Reverend RL), David Banner (Tehronne), Michael Raymond-James (Gill)

Samuel L. Jackson certainly steals the show with his passionate, spiritual focus. While he does not completely release all of the demons in his past, his portrayal of Lazarus never represents purity. He has his moments of preaching but also tempers his approach with humility and honest care for a lost girl’s plight. As the troubled Rae, Christina Ricci plays her role as if the devil was flowing through her blood. She seems innocent with her boyfriend but waivers immediately after his departure. The lust is clear and the pain evident, as she represents the struggles of a young woman with a troubled past and two abusive parents. Justin Timberlake displays the pain of a man struggling with the anxiety issues in a southern, simpler atmosphere. With only a few moments of outburst, he presents his own set of challenges which can only he calmed through the care of his love for Rae.

Craig Brewer uses this film to highlight the opportunity for forgiveness and repair of the human spirit. Rae is a young woman haunted by the demons of her past. She had a father who sexually abused her and a mother who mentally damaged her, by supporting her father’s sexual activities. Lazarus may have judged Rae by deeming her in need of mental and spiritual help, but he truly believed that his unusual methods were going to save her. Chaining a half-naked woman to a radiator may seem like he had ill intentions and certainly can be identified as having sexist implications (creating a sense of control over a woman whose past has developed a difficult to quench sexual lust), but he always saw an opportunity to care for and save the life of a young woman. His pure intentions are a quality that do not get appreciated until later in the film and comment on the mixed level of care we see in the world around us. Whether fueled by individual motivations or religious convictions, some people can find ways to help the helpless.

This was certainly an interesting film that may stir some difficult feelings about Lazarus’s method for “saving” Rae. On the border of being a cultish-type movie.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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