out of Five
Running time: 116
Craig Brewer's follow-up to Hustle and Flow is a superbly written, brilliantly acted and frequently surprising film that is by turns sexy, shocking and ultimately moving.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Craig Brewer, Black Snake Moan stars Christina Ricci as Rae, a white trash nymphomaniac who's desperate for sex after her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) leaves town to join the National Guard. However, her taste in men leaves something to be desired and one of her conquests leaves her half-naked and unconscious by the side of the road.
In the morning, Rae is found by Lazarus (Samuel L Jackson), a deeply religious, blues-playing man whose wife has abandoned him. When Rae puts the moves on Lazarus, he decides to cure her of her affliction by the slightly unorthodox method of chaining her to the radiator, half-naked.
Black Snake Moan derives its title from a Blind Lemon Jefferson song and the phrase is used in the film to express an aching desire. There's also a terrific blues soundtrack, featuring several songs sung by Jackson himself.
Samuel L Jackson and Christina Ricci are superb – if there was any justice in the world, they would be nominated for Oscars, as both are on career-best form here. Ricci, in particular, is sensational, delivering a painfully raw performance that really gets under your skin, and there's strong support from Justin Timberlake (fast becoming an actor to watch after this and Alpha Dog) and from John Cothran as a preacher who helps Lazarus.
The superb posters for the film are probably guilty of playing up the sensationalistic aspects of the story. Whilst the film does have its fair share of titillation - Ricci spends several scenes topless or naked - the actual plot is surprisingly moving and emotional.
Black Snake Moan is an offbeat, frequently surprising film that deserves to be seen, thanks to its terrific central performances and its killer soundtrack. Highly recommended.