Movie Reviews 379 – Black Snake Moan (2006)

I intentionally did not look up the movie synopsis on my Black Snake Moan DVD before popping it into my trusty player as the fact that the cover featured both Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson , either one alone being good enough to have me sold on a viewing. The lack of any prior knowledge regarding the plot turned out to be a blessing as this was certainly a film that surprised me. In fact, this one has a lot of surprises.

The story is centered on Lazarus (hey, already a bonus!) a weathered black man (Jackson) who has just been dumped by his wife (who has run off with his own brother to make matters worse). Living in a remote dilapidated home Lazarus wakes up one morning to find a battered and barely clothed young woman unconscious on the side of the road, just steps from his front door. Hesitant at first, he cautiously takes in Rae (Ricci) and tends to her injuries. But when she awakens she is shocked to find a lengthy heavy duty chain tied around her torso with the other end secured to a radiator.

The first surprise is that the chain is not there for what you probably think. Quite the opposite to tell the truth. Turns out that ol’ Lazarus has nothing but the best intentions. In fact, he deems himself Rae’s saviour of sorts. Another surprise is that Rae, chains and all, is a promiscuous woman. I mean really promiscuous and when she offers herself to Lazarus it isn’t even a simple ploy to escape. But Lazarus has issues to deal with besides the woman chained in his house at the moment. There is of course the brother who stole his wife. There’s Lazarus’ best friend who happens to be a preacher and is of course shocked upon learning of the captive Rae. And then there’s the pharmacist Angela who seems to have a soft spot for him, but who Lazarus must lie to in order to keep the whole “I have a woman chained up in my house” thing a secret. And then there’s the music. Yep, while not quite a musical, music plays a large part of the story. Not enough surprises? I haven’t even gotten to Rae’s dark secret regarding her mother and it’s not the fact that her boyfriend (Justin Timberlake) who has mighty serious anxiety issues has left her to join the army in hopes of overcoming his attacks.

The blues, liberal sex, biblical imagery, and booze somehow all blend in this story about a man destined to get both the girl and himself back on the right track of life. Does it even sound like a ‘feel good’ story? And yet it is. There are a few other surprises, but watch it for yourself to discover those.

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