Black Snake Moan

Just look at that poster. The tall, strong, older black man in a wifebeater holding chains tight between his hands. The tiny, disheveled young white girl in a tiny shirt and cut-offs, on her knees at his feet, holding her arm up to hold the chain like she needs it, wants it. And that chain going on around her bare midriff, too.

How could any movie live up to that poster?

The sad answer is that Black Snake Moan can't quite. Oh, it does offer some unforgettable imagery: Rae (that would be the girl) walking on a narrow road in front of an enormous tractor and giving it the finger. Lazarus (that would be the man) walking her through the fields, but who's really leading who? Rae trying to escape her wicked desires by wrapping herself as tight as she can in that chain and moaning.

In the end though, the film is much more sweet and, alas, much more tame than it has any right to be. See, they're just messed up people. The bible-toting Lazarus isn't religion-crazy, he's just been left by his wife and, you know, hurt. Rae might be a nympho, but she's really in love with Ronnie (Justin Timberlake, who actually turns in a decent performance). They even have watches that beep at the same time: ain't that cute? And in the end, everything turns out just fine - though Brewer, to his credit, doesn't make the resolutions too neat.

Black Snake Moan is a film worth seeing. But it's not the exploitation dream promised by the poster, and that's too bad.


Paul C. said...

Yeah, I agree. It's a strange mix of sleazy and cute, although the ballsiness of the opening half-hour or so is pretty great.

Also, I noticed that you're looking for some awards ideas for this year. If you'd like, I have a proposition for you. Send an e-Mail to the address I link to in my profile for more details.

Oh, and anyone who likes Belle de Jour as much as you do is OK by me.

cjKennedy said...

I've heard a great many reactions to his movie, but I think yours is my favorite so far.

No one is on the fence about it, but interestingly I think a lot of the people who hated it act like it was the movie you wanted it to be.

I was surprised by its sweet nature, but not in a bad way.