On the heals of his critically acclaimed film “Hustle & Flow writer/director Craig Brewer released “Black Snake Moan” in 2006 to more praise. Although not as popular as “Hustle” this movie was overlooked by many and was in and out of theatres way to fast.
Set in the Deep South, which is a character in itself, this is a story of redemption. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, who seems to be in about ten movies a year, hits a good note here. He plays Lazarus an old blues musician who finds himself at a sort of crossroads in his life. His wife has left him and another woman is about to come into his live and really test his faith. This woman is Rae, played by Christina Ricci. She is your average town skank, with heavy issues or her own. Her boy friend Ronnie is played by Justin Timberlake, who in all of his movie roles so far has shown to be a damn good actor. Ronnie has signed up for the Army, but suffers from debilitating anxiety attacks. When he leaves for boot camp, Rae is left alone and vulnerable.
After a wild outdoor party, Ronnie’s brother tries to get with Rae and is turned down. This does not sit well as he explodes into a violent rage and beats Rae half to death. She is dumped and left for dead on the side of the road. The next morning Lazarus finds her and takes her in. Rae is the white she devil that tempts Laz at every opportunity. His only concern is making her well and ridding her soul of this “wickedness”. To protect themselves from each other (and themselves) he chains Rae to the radiator. He helps Rae deal with her abusive past, while she helps him rediscover his purpose in life. The sweaty southern atmosphere and the superb acting by Sam Jackson really make this movie work. Although the story is a little unreal the movie just works and I applaud the filmmakers for making such a movie!