Black Snake Moan
A drama written and directed by Craig Brewer, produced by Stephanie Allain and John Singleton, music by Scott Bomar, cinematography by Amy Vincent and edited by Billy Fox. Premise: Religious farmer Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) is rather upset when his younger wife Rose (Adriane Lenox) leaves him for his brother Deke (Leonard L. Thomas). One morning, Lazarus finds a battered Rae (Christina Ricci) unconscious on the side of the road, the unwell young lady having been promiscuous since her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) left for his tour of duty.
Wasn't a fan of the music, which became a problem near the end, felt the voices could be too quite but was impressed by the make-up when Rae was battered, loved the camera work during one scene
. Initially found that each scene was strong but when it changed to the next scene, I seemed to lose interest until that new scene built up. Not sure why and after awhile, I didn't have those gaps of disinterest. This is a film with very strong language, voilence and contains adult material but done it in such a way that I wasn't too uncomfortable, it didn't feel exploitive but an important part of the tale and the characters. Unlike the poster which does the film a great disservice. The unease I felt when watching the film was from two well crafted themes: from an action of Lazarus to Rae
and from small hints that something dark lies behind Rae's promiscuity. The former made me worry where things were heading, despite Lazarus seeming fairly kind, as there were a number of ways that could go and the latter meant any Rae seduction or other action along those lines was clouded by the thought of what had driven her to this. Ricci can make a reasonable seductress but any feelings I had were always dampened by what little I knew/suspected.
Ricci and Jackson put in very good performances and combine well, they both fit into their roles and the contradictions within them. I initially found Lazarus and Rae to be somewhat unlikeable but didn't realize till the film was over that they had really grown on me. While well supported by side characters like paster R.L (John Cothran, Jr.), it is the relationship and struggles of the two main characters that drive the film along. It doesn't quite hit the emotional heights at times but it was very intresting and enjoyable to watch. Unfortunately, once it takes away the two uneasy themes in the end phase, I found it got less and less intresting. More music for me not to enjoy and a sense the film was trying to wrap itself up, not giving certain moments enough chance to have an impact. There was one scene very near the end that made me smile but the general failure to quite have the emotional punch did hinder the last half an hour while one of the actors performance dipped
in an otherwise very good performance from the cast.
Overall: A film that used two unsettling themes well and built up an intresting relationship between it's two main characters. Ending a little disappointing.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”