Feature

Black Snake Moan

A Tennessee bluesman attempts to reform a prostitute by chaining her to his radiator.

Black Snake Moan has a premise designed to shock, said Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly. A Tennessee slut, Rae (Christina Ricci), left for dead on the side of road, gets rescued by out-of-work blues singer Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson). To cure the little white girl of her evil ways, the big black man sensibly chains her to his radiator. A cross between Tennessee Williams and 1970s blaxploitation films, Craig Brewer's quirky fable of redemption has a 'œfervent, wild-eyed corniness' and an inventive way of subverting sexual and racial stereotypes. Except when he's reinforcing them, said Christopher Kelly in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As he did in his debut, Hustle & Flow, Brewer 'œcombines bald-faced clichés with stomach-churning misogyny and passes it off as a hip new thing.' Ricci spends the film in underwear and a frayed Confederate-flag T-shirt, the camera ogling her 'œin an almost predatory fashion.' But Brewer's 'œsexual button-pushing' is simply a ruse, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. Beneath the lurid theatrics beats 'œa heart of pure, buttery corn pone,' and what started shockingly devolves into a down-home therapy session. Happily, Ricci and Jackson both bring out the comedy in the ludicrous premise. See Black Snake Moan for their 'œkinky screwball' performances and a fine soundtrack of blues songs that are far more shocking, and wise, than the film itself.

Rating: R

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