Black Snake Moan


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Black Snake Moan
"Moan? You’re more likely to be groaning – or possibly hooting with laughter at the implausibility of this messy, misogynistic melodrama."

Moan? You’re more likely to be groaning – or possibly hooting with laughter at the implausibility of this messy, misogynistic melodrama.

Having previously given the “underdog wins the day” a pimp and whore twist in Hustle & Flow, Craig Brewer has set his sights on The Taming Of The Shrew. Yes, really. And while fellow Sundance alumnus Hounddog is bringing us one breed of black stereotype – the good ol' Uncle Tom - Brewer serves up a portion of the fire and brimstone cliché, with a side of betrayed bluesman, sprinkled with just a hint of ‘noble savage’. Not cringing yet? Oh, you will be.

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Christina Ricci – wearing scarcely enough clothes to dress a five-year-old – plays Rae, the shrew in question. But not only is she a bit wacky and woozy, she’s also a nymphomaniac. When the steadiest of her boyfriends, Ronnie (Justin Timberlake – so wooden he makes the scenery look as though it is giving a command performance) leaves for the Gulf, she goes out to party hard and ends up beaten and battered by the side of the road.

This is where Samuel L Jackson – whose quality control is on the blink again – steps in. He plays Lazarus, a God-fearing bluesman, who has given up picking out tunes since his wife done him wrong. On finding this scrap of a blonde thing, wearing nothing but a scrap of clothing he decides to nurse her back to health. But after discovering her predilection for shagging every bloke she comes across he decides to “cure her”. Oh yes. And how does he go about this? I know, you’re thinking rehab, maybe, or a visit to the local shrink. But no. Clearly the best way to fix this little girl right up is to chain her to the radiator.

I could tell you more, but it’s more of the same – with incongruous segments of blues and a pointless sub-plot involving the wonderful S Epetha Williams (who deserves better than this) thrown in. Samuel L comes out of this with his dignity almost intact, it turns out he can carry a tune – although the blues plotline is largely tagged on. Ricci on the other-hand is induced into such a scenery chewing performance by Brewer it’s amazing she didn’t just bite right through the chain she’s held captive by.

Teenage lads will doubtless get a kick out of Ricci’s sub-porn posturings – while the rest of the world will only marvel at how easy it is to turn a snake into a turkey.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2007
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Bluesman tries to 'cure' nymphomaniac in messy melodrama, with chains.
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Jennie Kermode **1/2

Director: Craig Brewer

Writer: Craig Brewer

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Christina Ricci, John Cothran Jr, Justin Timberlake, S Epatha Merkerson, David Banner, Bevan Bell, Cody Block, Clare Grant, Robert L. Jacobs, Rhianna Kelling

Year: 2006

Runtime: 118 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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