Black Snake Moan (2006) Poster

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surprising movie with a good message
danceNchrist3 March 2007
Working at a movie theater as a projectionist, I have the opportunity to watch basically every movie that comes out. When I first saw the trailer for 'Black Snake Moan' I laughed and thought, "Great. Another 'Snakes on a Plane' Samuel L Jackson movie". But of course, I wanted to see it for the laugh factor. Many people have judged this movie too quickly based on the innuendo in the title, the images on promotional ads and on the fact that Justin Timberlake is in the film. Personally I loved every second of this movie. It tells the story of an older man and young woman who are both going through rough times and are able to reach out to one another. The story is truly touching and sends out a great message about life and how we live. Of course, I do not recommend it for young audiences due to some graphic material, but if you are looking for a great story and genuine acting from Sam Jackson, Christina Ricci and,yes, even Justin Timberlake, I encourage you to see 'Black Snake Moan'.
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Craig Brewer convinces us that he is for real and Samuel L. makes sweet music
sundevil2726 January 2007
Just saw this fantastic film at the Sundance premier and cannot sing its praises enough. Last time I saw Craig Brewer he was singing Ike and Tina to the audience and turning Sundance upside down with his breakout film Hustle and Flow. This time around he fulfills on his big Sundance payday with another unique vision thats going to get everyone talking about Samuel L Jackson, and if you thought Christina Ricci was just that girl in the Addams Family movies then think again. Ricci plays Rae a complete mess of a women who without her beloved Ronnie, played by the getting better all the time Justin Timberlake, has an uncontrollable need for all things sexual. When Ronnie leaves for the a tour with the Army, Rae's demons send her tumbling down a bumpy road that leaves her used and abused left for dead on the side of the road. Along comes old blues-man Lazarus played by the great Samuel L Jackon, Lazarus himself has a few demons lurking around in his head as well, notably his ex-wife who done wrong by him. Lazarus gets to think about this young women and after some soul searching he takes it upon himself to cure her evil ways with some love, some lessons and a 40 lb. chain. I don't want to reveal too much so I'll just say there's some dark moments, some very funny moments and whole lot of great acting. This movie isn't by any means Hustle & Flow 2, however Craig Brewer does tie the two films together with his hope for redemption and change for the better for even the most unlikely of people. Audiences will find a movie worth watching here and worth thinking about well after it ends.
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An excellent movie with disastrous marketing
rgparise-111 February 2007
We just saw this film previewed before release at the Norfolk (VA) Film Forum, and there was general agreement on two matters: There were excellent performances in a first rate drama by the two leads and by others: and secondly, the marketing for this movie will only bring disaster. We saw a lurid poster with chains and suggestive commentary implying some sort of wacko sexual relationship between Samuel Jackson and Cristina Ricci, whereas the movie has some real depth and some thoughtful ideas. What's sad is that people looking for near porn will be drawn in to see the film and will be disappointed because it will be too "heavy" for them, while the people who would really enjoy it wouldn't be caught dead walking into the theater showing it. Too bad. A good film wasted.
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The heart of the delta blues
u2nspenserfan3 March 2007
I watched this movie at the first showing available in my area, and it was quite clear that most people didn't get the movie. Even if you don't, it's a good movie with some interesting character development. It is a thoroughly human story about some very imperfect people in a backwoods southern town, and really speaks to the root of the blues. If you don't know what the "Black Snake Moan" is by the time you leave the theater, you didn't get it. And no.. it's not just a song. Christina Ricci does a great job and is thoroughly convincing in her role, as is Samuel L Jackson. I think this is his best performance since his role in Pulp Fiction, and probably his best including that because of the range of his character in BSM. The rest of the cast is solid, with a few shining performances here and there, particularly John Cothran Jr as Reverend R. L.. I'm a very selective movie watcher, and this film honestly rates among my favorites because of its candid look at race, sex, religion and neurosis in a rural southern town, along with its cinematic genius, in my opinion.
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Moan hits Home ..
bluzalley2 March 2007
Just got back from seeing Black Snake Moan. I had spent time reading reviews ... most seemed to focus on the obvious ... "skinny white girl chained to a black man's radiator" ... I hate when "critics" miss the point of a film. Now I suppose it helps that I live in Memphis ... and have lived in Mississippi a couple of times too. It may also help that I am the former Director of the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale ... but I get this movie. Brewer's simple "redemption tale" is easy to follow and could have had various themes to tell the story ... but I believe it is highly effect as a "blues". It would be my hope that people don't read all the hype ... and/or various reviews ... and miss a really good movie. Get past the various things like skinny girls in white panties ... get past Justin Timberlake, accept his character Ronnis (which he plays very well) ... get past "Snakes on a Plane" and see how mercuricul Samuel L. Jackson is ... as he has transformed himself into a very believable Mid-South blues man. If you know little about Mid-South culture a lot of what goes on may strike some as cartoonish ... but accept the fact that Craig Brewer KNOWS how to paint the canvas and let the actors tell the story and you will enjoy this film. Not one to tell endings ... so go see this movie ... and yes I will agree with one thing the critics got right ... the music is wonderful!
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Bold Bite
JP Paxton3 March 2007
If you've been looking for a film where a out of control nympho gets chained to a radiator by an extremely religious southern man then look no further than Paramount Vantage's latest release 'Black Snake Moan'. Not exactly looking for what I just described you say? Well then, you best get ya wits 'bout yaself and mosey on down to your local theater and still see it as Samuel L. Jackson's character Lazarus would say. As long as you're open minded and don't take everything seriously, there's no reason you won't leave the theater glad you saw it.

In the third offering from director Craig Brewer, we are taken into the deep south where as the tagline to the film claims, everything is hotter. While there we're introduced to the Godfearing bluesman, Lazarus as previously said played by Jackson, and the almost always half naked Rae; a role bravely taken on by Christina Ricci. In the film this unlikely pair cross paths long enough for their characters to each learn a lesson from one another. Both lessons ultimately convey the message to us the audience that no matter what, we are all human. No one is perfect and if everyone would realize that, then we'd be a lot better off. The question of if this will be understood, or be accepted by all who see the film is another story.

One thing not up for debate is how great Jackson and Ricci both are here. You'd think with the role of a sex-crazed woman, overacting would be a given, but no, not here. Ricci breaks through and demonstrates true talent with a raw performance that also doubles as her best to date. Then we have Jackson who completely disappears and for the first time in a long time makes us forget who he even is. Sadly, the third star of the film, Justin Timberlake who plays Rae's military-bound boyfriend isn't all that great. At the start, he fails miserably as he appears to be trying too hard. Later on he steps it up some, still he's far from the level he reached in January's 'Alpha Dog'.

The other thing 'Black Snake Moan' boasts is a splendid soundtrack. Containing tracks from The Black Keys, John Doe, pieces from the score done by Scott Bomar, & of course four, count 'em, four tracks from Jackson himself. It's actually one of his songs, the main performance of the film, 'Stackolee' that is the fuel to the fire of this great collection. It alone is worth the ticket price. Other notable musical delights from the soundtrack are Bomar's 'The Chain', 'When the Lights Go Out' from the Black Keys, & the title track which is also among the most memorable scenes in the film where Lazarus sings to Rae on a stormy night.

The efforts of Craig Brewer can't go without mention though. His last film 'Hustle & Flow' which ended up surpassing low expectations and gaining critical acclaim put him on the map. What he has done with 'Black Snake Moan' will be what sets him apart from other newbies to the industry. He not only directed 'Moan', but also wrote its screenplay. The end result is a story that is surprising and clever. As you watch you feel like you know exactly where it's headed despite its valiant composure. Just as you think you've predicted the next move Brewer shifts gears and takes an entirely different route. There are however some blotches within the screenplay. The background characters are drab and flat while the ending is somewhat disappointing. It left me craving for something more exciting. After so many highs I guess the final scenes were a tad weak compared to the rest of the film.

I imagine the majority of people who see 'Black Snake Moan' won't enjoy it due to the fact they won't be able to stop themselves from thinking how unlikely the situations are. The depressing part about that is there are many other films with just as unlikely, even more outrageous scenarios that are widely well received. It's the issues of race, religious motives, & sexuality the film exhibits that will have more effect on opinion than anything. The idea of a black man chaining a white woman up in his house is enough to make most people not even consider seeing it. Simply put, it's not for everyone. Like I said, to fully enjoy it you have to go in with an open mind, or else you're just wasting your money. For those of you who can do that, I highly recommend it.
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Everything is indeed hotter down South
TheMovieMark2 March 2007
I'll be honest with you; this is not the type of movie that I'm usually drawn to. All you have to do is watch the trailer and read the plot summary to figure out where you stand. But just to continue this honest streak, I have to admit that Jackson and Ricci are so good in their roles, that they were able to pull me into the story and keep a grip on my interest.

Combining a sweltering Southern setting, blood and guts blues riffs, and a little unexpected Bible imagery, Brewer has definitely given this film a style of its own and an atmosphere that's as effective as the actors in telling this strange little tale of love and redemption.

Though its aspirations run higher, there's no denying that the film has its moments of exploitation. Ricci's half-nakedness for 75% of the film is testament to that. Those of you with more delicate palates might experience a little discomfort watching this, and understandably so. It's raw. It's ugly. It's dirty. Even Brewer agrees that this isn't exactly for everybody.

And that's what makes this such an odd movie to pin down. On one hand, I don't think I'd ever have a need to see it again. But on the other, I'm kind of curious how my opinion might be affected via a second viewing. Did I really like it? Or did I merely appreciate the effort and success in Brewer's ability to tell his unusual story in his own unconventional way? It's definitely a film that inspires discussion ... and a wide variety of adjectives. Strange. Over-the-top. Interesting. Unique. Uncomfortable. Take your pick. All these things combine to make it the theatrical experience that it unashamedly is.

It feels like a gritty, twisted blues song come alive on screen. It's a character study, and if you have any hope of enjoying it then you must accept the fact that the film doesn't shy away from showcasing the underbelly of a very disturbed young woman and the path she's traveling.

No, it's not for everybody. But love it or hate it, I feel safe in saying you likely won't see anything else like it this year. Proceed at your own caution. Just remember, everything is indeed hotter down South.


Black Snake Moan is the type of film that makes you stop and examine your audience before deciding who to recommend it to. It features very solid acting, a great atmosphere, and a strangely different story. But it also gets a bit sick and twisted at times and has no problems doing so. Take my words to heart and then go with your instinct on this one.
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Great film!
Fedaykin_Sadako3 March 2007
I knew as soon as I saw the first trailer for Black Snake Moan that I would have to see it. I was not disappointed in the slightest in the film, which was written and directed by Hustle and Flow's creator Craig Brewer. It tells the story of a broken blues man and the nymphomaniac he aims to cure not just for her sake, but also his own...yet it's so much more than that. It's complex and rich and it manages to steep you in a gritty, sticky, sultry blue Memphis without making you feel like you need a bath afterward.

The characters are (for the most part) multifaceted and very well-written and performed. The accents and the dialogue were carried off flawlessly. However, there was one weak link in the chain: Justin Timberlake. The best I can say for him is that he can pull off's a rare male actor who can cry convincingly. However, Justin's Ronnie was flat, but as an actor he was trying very hard. I would definitely give him another chance.

Lazarus and Rae (Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci respectively) have a great chemistry and a great respect for each other. This is one of those films where it doesn't matter how good one actor is if the other one isn't up to the task and, luckily, both of the actors were up to the task.

The music was very bit as good as you would expect, especially when Mr. Samuel L. Jackson sings the blues. Phenomenal.

On the technical side, all was brilliance as far as I could see. It was well-edited, well shot, and well-mixed...everything was great. The character and set designs were just right, the casting of the supporting characters (even Justin Timberlake and especially Kim Richards) was spot on... Loved it.
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Not What You Expect Going In...Pleasantly Surprised Walkng Out
Sam_Seaborn23 February 2007
Me and my roommate got free tickets for a Pre Screening I guess you would call it in Atlanta, GA at Atlantic Station. Walking in I was expecting something controversial, provocative, unnecessarily overdone, etc.. But the film is much more than that. It's a story of two people helping each other. It's not overdone, and the film is done in a careful balance as to not make you cringe or say its unnecessary.

It's put together really well and doesn't take itself too seriously. Thats the beauty of it. If it tried to take itself seriously, it would have failed miserably, but instead it carries itself through humor (some unintentional) and some surprisingly good acting by Ricci. Although Timberlake fails miserably in his role, the movie is good enough for you to put that on the side.

I would definitely recommend this movie, if not for any other reason than the fact it is something different to experience.
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This little light of mine…Black Snake Moan
jaredmobarak10 March 2007
Craig Brewer is now officially a writer/director for whom I will see any film by, no matter how bad it may look. His debut, Hustle and Flow, was one of my favorites from that year, with its emotionally charged storyline and realistic, fallible characters. I wasn't quite sure what I would end up thinking after seeing this sophomore effort. The cast seemed great, the trailer used music effectively, however, it seemed like there was a good chance it would cross into absurdity, and fast. Fortunately, Black Snake Moan hits all its marks dead-on. The acting is astonishing, the writing superb, and the editing style, as well as juxtaposed music, riveting the whole way. Brewer seems to be a master at getting his characters to have the right mix of both compassion and malice as they set forward on their paths toward redemption.

The first moment I knew I was in for a treat was during the abbreviated credit sequence at the beginning. Like he did with Hustle and Flow, Brewer lays the music over the widescreen shots perfectly with simply titled fonts coming up statically. The 70's aesthetic was welcome and helped show that this would be another great character piece in the vain of those from that decade of some of cinema's best. From here we continued on with the short snippets into the lives of both Lazarus and Rae, each vignette mirroring the other while they journey to the fateful moment their paths finally cross. The editing between them was fluid and relevant rather than abruptly cutting before the scene felt finished with its purpose. Rae's boyfriend leaves for duty in the service and Laz's wife leaves him for his brother. Each feels the loneliness and reverts to what they know in that situation—Rae to sex and Laz to the bottle. Only when Rae is left for dead at the side of the road and her savior comes from his farm to take her in does the reasoning for their actions finally start to become clear.

Samuel L. Jackson is fantastic as the older bluesman farmer trying to reconcile his life with God and that of the flesh and the pain it has brought him. There are the moments of stoic sternness as well as those of kindheartedness with his captive/patient. You never really look at the setup as comical or unrealistic because he sells what he is doing so well. Also, the character of Rae is not chained up for very long, despite what the trailers would have you believe. The situation starts a bit awkward until we see that the chaining was for her own good and is actually used for only a day or two. As for that chained girl, Christina Ricci really shines. I never really saw her as anything special, but this role is a true breakthrough for her. This girl is so troubled that her past sexual abuse has scarred her very deep down. Any time she is away from her love she starts seeing flashes of the man who took her childhood innocence away and itches to be touched by any man available to let the image go away. Her nymphomania is not for pleasure, but rather for survival from the haunting nightmares always hiding behind her eyelids. Ricci fully inhabits the role and shows all the emotional trauma to great effect and realism. Mention must also be made of Justin Timberlake, again showing some real acting talent. Where this guy came from I have no clue, but hopefully he will continue taking more films and steer away from the mostly crap music he churns out.

While not as solid and consistent as Hustle and Flow, Moan still ranks equally to it, in my mind, because when it is on, it is spectacular. Towards the end we have a truly enthralling sequence with "This Little Light of Mine" singing out, and earlier, the interaction between captive and captor, when the chain is first introduced, shows some top-notch work. The truly magical moment, though, is when Jackson sings (yes that is him throughout, like it was Terrence Howard in Hustle) the titular song while a thunderstorm roars and the lights flicker. If I don't see a more beautifully shot sequence all year, I won't be surprised. What these two people do for each other is wonderful and shows what humanity is capable of. One thing I think I really enjoy with Brewer's work is the fact that he doesn't show sinners becoming redeemed heroes. Instead he shows us that no matter how bad you have been, or how bad life has been, everyone can strive for redemption and to be better people. We don't have saints here, but fallible people looking to right their ship. If the course stays true or if it falls back into darkness, no one really knows, but at least they can say that they tried as hard as they could.
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Black Snake Moan is off the chain, great.
ironhorse_iv4 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The title of this film, "Black Snake Moan" refers to a really old song by country blues musician, Blind Lemmon Jefferson in which, the singer talks about his sexual addiction and his moans for love, once more. Full of explicit sexual nuances, Jefferson's song full of unconventional melodic style and utilization of double entendres, was able to fly pass the radar of censorship, back in the 1920s. As much, I like how Jefferson was able to pioneer this style of music. I have to say, actor, Samuel Jackson sings the song, so much better than Blind Lemmon Jefferson, ever did. Jackson was really able to update the song to fit with this new generation with his electric guitar playing, deep shouting gravitas voice, and depth of his character's backstory. It was very moving part of the film. Honestly, most of this movie is very compelling with its controversial subjects that include but are not limited to rape, sexual addiction, parental abuse, anxiety disorders, and religious outlooks. Without spoiling this polarizing film, too much, I have to say, I kinda like the story of the grumpy hermit/ former Blues singer, Lazarus Redd (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to rebuild his life after a nasty divorce, while also, trying hard to cure, a known nymphomaniac, Rae Doole (Christina Ricci) from her faults. It made for a very well-told story. I love all the metaphors and symbolism that this film has to offer, too. A good example of one is the chain that Rae wears around her waist, during most of the film and the type of shirt, she is wearing. If you don't realize it, already Rae represented the South, and its struggles, after the American Civil War. Not only, does her chain, represented the heavy weight of learning to live, with the mistakes and haunts of the past, but her chained up character is also stand-in, for the continuous, ignored issue of modern day slavery. After all, the region, is known for being a strong bible belt, but it also been known to keep that belt unbuckled when it comes to the dangers of having too lust, over the sense of love. The high reports of human trafficking, sexual abuse, and sex slaves is signed of that. Although, the chain can represented, something bad and naughty, it also can somewhat represented the unity that the South has, with its supply chain, when it comes to addressing the issue, in hand. There is no bigger metaphor of that, than the radiator in which Lazarus chain up Rae. It represented, the ever changing social climate of the South, as conflicts can indeed heat up, or cool down. No matter, how far, you run away from your issues. You will always been weighted down, by what society, thinks and wants from you. It's only, when you able to address the past, and learn to live with yourself, in a moral life, is when the removal of the chain, can be seem, as a meaningful step toward a better future. Another thing, I like about this film is that Lazarus, isn't a mysterious 'magical black negro' type character with no backstory, nor does Rae represented the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' that is there to save his soul. In many ways, both characters are well-defined, with each, having their own issues to deal with, on their own, with or without the help from the other. Nobody is depended on the other, at all. Like Lazarus's namesake, it's about the redemption and resurrection of two, clearly mess up people. However, people might not see that, through the film's poster and exploitation marketing. The way, they market, this movie makes it, seem like a more like a porno than a character study film. It really does overblows the potential fetish fuel of the film, at the expense of everything else. It's not the best. Don't get me wrong, Christina Ricci is one, attractive woman, but her character wasn't made, just for nudity and fan service. She really, put some work, in showing how ugly and unhealthy, Rae can really be. She really does look pale and pasty. Even Samuel L. Jackson, ugly himself up, by letting his hair grow out, not dying or shaving, to show, how wash-up, his character has become. Both actors, really made their character, their own. I also have to give, mad props to both, the supporting actors in this film. Justin Timberlake as Rae's boyfriend, Ronnie was great. He really was, able to show his character emotional crutch, with the way, his body language moves. He really did seem like he suffers from extreme social anxiety. It really shows Hollywood, that the then-newly made solo singer can indeed, acted. Another person that need some praise is Michael Raymond-James as Ronnie's friend, Gill Morton. He was able to show both, his loving cares and hateful lust for Rae, making his performance, a very sympathetically real-life person. Even thought, he tries to make advances on Rae, which is a no-no, in my picture; I still can understand, what stress, he had to deal with when dealing with mess up people who supposed to be your friends. Overall: While, still many viewers will undoubtedly be offended by director Craig Brewer's representation of a still-segregated, racist South; I have to say, I love how the film acknowledges the importance of sex, while also highlighting the danger of having sex irresponsibly, all without being too heavy-handed and preachy. I also cherish the film, for its use of 'Delta Blues' type music and how well-shot, it was. In the end, this clever morality tale about two unlikely characters is a must-watch. I do recommended. It's pleasantly amazing.
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It's About the Culture and Ideals of the South
sk duncan (skduncan)2 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Craig Brewer grew up in Tennessee, it is evident in his movie. Forget the Black guy on White Girl action. It happens, but it isn't Samuel L. Jackson on Christina Ricci. More importantly this movie is about the values and culture of the people in this Tennessee town. How they deal with divorce, abandonment, sexual abuse and psychological disorders. While shrinks make millions in the cities of the North, Midwest and West Coast, the town minister, who also grapples with his own problems, becomes the counselor and mediator. It is a interesting concept and one that may not settle well with everyone.

Brewer shows us the region he grew up in. Yes it is still tainted with racial problems, though worse problems exist in many metropolitan cities. This is in the subtext and not the main plot of the story. People live a more simple lifestyle, yet life is still complex and excruciating.

Jackson and Ricci do a fantastic job in this film. Jackson the aging-former blues guitarist who eeks out a living on his small farm. His wife of 12 years leaves him for his brother, so he spirals into depression. Meanwhile Ricci and Justin Timberlake have a last wild sexually charged night before he ships off to the Army. Ricci suffers from a childhood of sexual abuse, though that isn't revealed until later, her torment can only be quenched by sexual forays with various boys (Black and White) in the town.

When Ricci is beat up and left for dead on the road near Jacksons farm, he finds her and nurses her back to health. He believes it is divine intervention that this half-naked White girl is left in his care. He clutches his Bible and prays for guidance. He refuses her sexual advances and instead treats her with dignity, respect and care. Something few men in her life have ever done.

She in time sees Jackson as a man of honor and morals, yet he also carries his own pain. He plays his guitar and sings to her. Yes it's the Blues and damn good too, With the minister counseling her, she slowly understands how to deal with her childhood sexual abuse. Jackson, through Ricci's transformation, realizes he must let his own pain heal.

Justin Timberlake comes back, discharged due to "anxiety problems". As he searches for Ricci, who has been living with Jackson during her recovery, he finds out she has been promiscuous and unfaithful to him.

He finds her and Jackson at a bar, where Jackson has decided (as part of his healing process) to come out retirement and play the Blues again. Timberlake follows them home and confronts Jackson and Ricci.

You will have to see the movie to get the rest of the story. Should you decide to see this film, remember to look at it from the aspect of a foreign or independent movie. It is a slice of life, from a particular region of America that few of us get to see. It is interesting and revealing. It also shows us that regardless of the color of our skin, we all have similar problems that can be fixed with similar solutions.
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A Weird Tale of Faith, Hope, Love and Blues
Claudio Carvalho11 May 2008
In Mississippi, the former blues man Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) is in crisis, missing his wife that has just left him. He finds the town slut and nymphomaniac Rae (Chritina Ricci) dumped on the road nearby his little farm, drugged, beaten and almost dead. Lazarus brings her home, giving medicine and nursing and nourishing her like a father, keeping her chained to control her heat. When her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) is discharged from the army due to his anxiety issue, he misunderstands the relationship of Lazarus and Rae, and tries to kill him.

"Black Snake Moan" is a weird tale of faith, hope, love and blues. The gifted Christina Ricci has an impressive performance in the role of a young tramp abused since her childhood by her father and having had sex with the whole town where she lives. It is amazing the versatility of this actress, and probably this is the most mature work that I have seen Christina Ricci perform. Samuel L. Jackson has also a fantastic performance in the role of Lazarus. The soundtrack is one of the most beautiful I have ever heard in a movie, with wonderful blues. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Entre o Céu e o Inferno" ("Between the Heaven and the Hell")
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Sinfully Soulful and Heavy
Rogue-325 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If ever a potential movie must've sounded like it wouldn't work based on reading the script on paper, it would be this one. Here we have what seemingly looks like a lurid and seedy soft-porn s&m flick, complete with the huge in-theatre poster, depicting a near-naked Christina Ricci chained to none other than Mr. Bad Ass MF himself, Samuel Jackson. But let me tell you, if ever a film springs to life on celluloid major big time with soulful power to spare, it's Craig Brewer's redemptive follow-up to Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan.

Unashamedly over the top from the get go, this film sucks you in with the opening scenes and proceeds to dig deeper and deeper in with every subsequent frame. It's yer basic story of two deeply damaged characters who find in each other the strength and courage to move on, in more positive ways, with their lives. Been done before, of course, this tale, but as I've always said, it's the manner in which a story is told that gives it heart, depth, meaning and power.

Ricci's damaged-by-childhood-abuse wild-child character Rae and Jackson's equally soulsick musician character Lazarus find each other under desperate circumstances, and Laz takes it upon himself to try to help Rae. This in itself is relatively unique: the idea of a man trying to genuinely help a woman who is in serious pain, rather than trying to take further advantage of her, and we know from the onset that Laz's heart, and the film's heart, is in the right place. The movie at its core is about the redemptive, healing power of love (with music as a very close second), and the film resonates profoundly with this truth - soulfully, artfully and brilliantly.

A major reason the film succeeds so profoundly is because of the fierce, committed performances from Ricci and Jackson. Scenes that would have come off as laughable and pathetic in lesser artists' hands are, instead, powerful as all get-out. In particular, the film's arc scene, in which Jackson sings and plays the song of the title alone in his house, with Ricci, amidst a serious thunderstorm and the abusive demons from Rae's past running amok inside her head, leading her to crawl to Lazarus and cling to his leg, comes off not ridiculous as technically it should, but rather as gut-wrenchingly cathartic.

All the supporting performances are fantastic here too. Justin Timberlake is completely believable as Rae's anxiety-ridden boyfriend Ronnie, and the always-wonderful S. Epatha Merkerson is also perfectly cast as a character who obviously has feelings for Lazarus. John Cothran Jr. is outstanding as well, as Laz's reverend friend R.L. (a nod to blues musician R. L. Burnside, no doubt). Everything works about this movie, let's face it, including the music/soundtrack, which features Burnside, Scott Bomar, Bobby Rush, Son House, and most importantly, Jackson himself, whose fantastic version of Stackolee I am listening to as I compose this review. There's also a really beautiful and moving version of "This Little Light of Mine" featured in the film, sung heart-breakingly tentative and soft by Ricci.

Samuel Jackson has said in recent interviews that he believes his performance in this movie is the best of his career thus far; I could not agree with him more. This is work that he can be monumentally proud of, along with everyone else involved in this audacious, supremely wise and deeply heartfelt mother*ucker of a project.
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a little allegory
jimi9922 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie had a notion to be something gritty and provocative, but with all its dirty talk and soft-core sex, ends up being some kind of white-trash fairy tale where the fairy godmother is a black semi-legendary bluesman who's having his own crisis of faith. If you don't automatically flash to Robert Johnson down at the crossroads, there are some clips of Son House talking about the real meaning of the blues. Stereotypes abound in "Black Snake Moan" which isn't a bad thing when you're trying to create an allegory for race relations down in the delta and how much nobler rural southern blacks are than their ignorant immoral white counterparts. Having grown up (white) in the south in the 50s and 60s, I know there's quite a bit of truth in that.

Christina Ricci is pretty good in this symbolic role, plenty ignorant and even more immoral, a nymphomaniac who of course was a victim of incestuous abuse as a child. Sam Jackson is engaging as a soul-searching honest truck farmer who hung up his Gibson a few years before to marry and have a family, which didn't work out the way he'd hoped. The extreme sex, drugs, and violence in the girl's life foreshadow a dark tale, but the story quickly devolves into a "black" comedy with a tidy Hollywood ending.

A little more realism would have helped. For instance, when "Rae" takes four vicious punches to the face, she should have looked a whole lot more swollen instead of her petite features smeared with some fake dried blood, and 2 days later it's barely noticeable. If she had done an elephant-man number for the middle of the movie, imagine, she probably would be front-runner for an Oscar next year. (Think Charlize.) She still may be, if only for the way she acts circles around Justin Timberlake, who is not quite bad, and keeps up pretty admirably with Sam Jackson.
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The Best Movie I've Seen All Year
Rompinhell15 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw this movie at the Atlanta Premiere (2/14/07) and it was fantastic. Craig came out for a brief Q&A session afterwards and was very gracious.

The cinematography was lush, no other way to describe it. It absolutely captured the small-town South in terms of its feel, seeing this movie was like being there.

It's difficult sometimes to divorce big names from characters and see the actor as the character he/she is supposed to be playing, but not in this film. In very short order Jackson, Ricci, and even Timberlake had me believing.

In short, a superb effort, and one I'd highly recommend.
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Absurd, Southern-Fried Melodrama Never Transcends Its Audacious Premise
Ed Uyeshima27 August 2007
It would be too easy to dismiss this strangely unsatisfying 2007 film entirely because I can't tell whether director/writer Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) is trying to satirize the Southern Gothic sensibilities of a Tennessee Williams potboiler or replicate the excesses of an early 1970's blaxploitation movie. Either way, he cannot seem to pull off his audacious premise which involves a cuckolded blues guitarist appropriately named Lazarus who enchains a nymphomaniac to his radiator. If the film was played out as over-the-top as the premise, then it might have had a fighting chance, but as it stands, Brewer is too ensconced in his chicken-fried fable to mine the potential black comedy in this hilariously preposterous exercise.

The hackneyed plot centers on Lazarus, a self-righteous man stinging from his wife's decision to leave him for his younger brother. Meanwhile, a skeletal nymphomaniac, Rae, is so distraught over her boyfriend Ronnie leaving for the army that she goes on a hedonistic meltdown involving alcohol, prescription drugs and indiscriminate sex. A violent episode leaves her unconscious on the road where Lazarus finds her limp body. The rest of the film focuses on how the principals change from the ordeal but not before facing a lot of inner demons along the way. However, unlike Hustle & Flow, I cannot really say that I cared about the fate of these misbegotten characters at the end. Brewer just can't seem to connect the absurdity of the central situation with anything resembling real life, which ironically may be exactly his point here.

The actors try hard to breathe empathetic life into the overripe characters, but they are ultimately defeated by the lurid dimensions of the story. As Lazarus, Samuel L. Jackson almost makes the situation palatable and even sings several blues numbers with surprising conviction, but Christina Ricci makes Rae a primal stockpile of white trash clichés on top of a condescending back story. Justin Timberlake is completely out of his league as Ronnie and neutralizes every scene he's in with his amateur standing as an actor. Look for former child star Kim Richards (Escape to Witch Mountain) as Rae's defeated mother and a doozy of a fight scene between the two in a grocery store. The 2007 DVD has plenty of extras including an enthusiastic commentary track by Brewer and a half-hour making-of documentary, "Conflicted: The Making of Black Snake Moan". There are a couple of shorter featurettes about the music and five deleted scenes.
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One of the best movies from this year!
Hebitsukai19 April 2007
I really think this movie deserves some Oscars! I really don't care what people can say badly about this movie...because it's a really well played parts from Samuel L. Jackson, and mainly by Christina Ricci!! I'm a big fan of hers, right since I saw her in Addams Family...been trying to watch all things she makes, and this is absolutely one of the best parts she played!! I love her looks (even though people say she's not pretty...I think she is...and I love her eyes)!! The movie is about many things...people say that is religious...people say that it's about racism...people say that is about drugs...people say that is about nymphomania...well...maybe is a little bit of all that!! But what I truly feel is that this movie has a high level of eye opening for what blues is...what it stands for...and mainly were it comes from: life...heart...pain...sorrow...and above all...spontaneous feelings!! I hope you get to see it...if you are that kind of person that likes a movie not only from the pictures or the story it tells...this is a good movie to see...if your not...well...see it anyway...cant hurt that much, and you get to see Christina Ricci acting so horny!! She's a fox!!
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This movie is outstanding
stewball996 March 2007
This if the first movie I've given a 10 to in years. If there was ever a movie that needed word-of-mouth to promote, this is it. A $4 Mil box is a disgrace. People don't know what it's about. If you have any appreciation for the Blues, or just a good use of excellent music, that alone is reason to go see it. How many people knew Jackson could sing, and damn fine too. You hear books and movies taunting that they're about salvation. After seeing this, you'll never be able to forgive such trivial use of the word. Yes, it's gritty, sexy, down home truth, bizarre and in-your-face real. Isn't that the best reason to see a movie? Those that get my meaning won't stay away from seeing this another week.
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Black Snake Moan delivers all it promises, and much more
trails3691 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If you want to see a movie with nudity, sex, drugs, alcohol, brutal beating of a woman and child rape, this movie will satisfy you. If you want to see a man creatively exact revenge on the treasure of a wife who left him, this movie has it. You've already heard the wonderful music that keeps the raw emotion going. The surprise is that in a story of violence, action and music a climax can come in a moment of silence, without a pedantic speech, which transforms the movie. Look for a final scene that is an unexpected evidence of a wounded person healing. Perhaps we who wonder why we wallow in the abundant profane will learn that love can be located above the loins in the heart. From the pumping pounding follow the rhythm to where where love is sacred.
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The story is emotionally charged, tackling the subjects of race, religion, music, and sex Warning: Spoilers
(My Synopsis) Rae (Christina Ricci) was a high school slut and nymphomaniac who connects with Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) to fulfill her needs. Ronnie must report to his National Guard unit and leaves Rae all alone. Rae is not alone for long, because she is the town tramp with a powerful need to hook-up with a man. After a party, Rae is taken home by a friend who ends up beating her half to death and throws her on the side of the road. The next day, Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) finds Rae and carries her home. Lazarus gives medical care to Rae, and believes that he can also save her from herself. Rae is like a dog in heat so Lazarus puts a 40 pound chain around her and his radiator to keep her from going out looking for men. Lazarus has problems of his own, because his wife has just left him for another man. Lazarus turns to his blues music to relieve his pain.

(My Comment) The movie has a deep meaning to it once you get past the sex and violence. The film has a different feel to it. The story is raw and almost puts you in the movie as if you were there. The 40 pound chain is a good metaphor, and symbolic of a chastity belt. You don't give love away to anyone, but you keep it for your true love. The chain could also be a parallel to a wife who is chained to the kitchen, yet Rae didn't cook. Rae only wanted to have sex all the time whereas a wife may not. I think Craig Brewer (writer & director) has made an extraordinary movie, and Samuel L. Jackson sings a mean blues song. The story is emotionally charged, tackling the subjects of race, religion, music, and sex all into one. (Paramount Classics, Run time 1:56, Rated R)(8/10)
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Well made and original guilty pleasure not to be taken literally
D A27 February 2007
A fantastic elevation of his southern-fried cinema form, Craig Brewer proves that there's a lot more to the durty south then rappers and pimps with his exciting and unique third feature Black Snake Moan. Replacing the crunked- up template that helped garner Hustle & Flow all of it's gritty praise, Brewer shifts the focus to a way older musical tradition in the South, the Blues. Proving the opposite of a one-trick-pony, this noticeable young writer and director weaves a potent spell of sleaze, laughter, terror, and redemption around Samuel L. Jackson's troubled, God-fearing bluesman and his fateful meeting with quite the tortured young lady.

Setting up and concluding this original and entertaining scenario proves overwhelming when compared to a tense centerpiece, but is still executed with enough flair and personality to maintain a certain integrity the entire time. It is in these harrowing, yet comical sequences of chained delight (excelling, no doubt with a near-perfect score) where two entirely different souls learn to benefit from one another in this peculiarly endearing way, that will have audience members shouting at the screen in joy for some of the new year's most hilarious and wicked scripting- that is if they are not offended past the point of realizing how unrealistic it is all trying to be.

Jackson, in a positively refreshing return to character acting roots, offers some of his strongest, most perceptive line readings this side of the late 90's, finally helping to burst my cynicism about all the similar, lazy characters he has been coasting through for nearly a decade. Fans of this icon will be in heaven to see Mr. Jackson finally give out another noteworthy and memorable performance, which sees the former Jedi and Hit-man slip into guitar-slingin, dirty blues mode without batting an eyelash. Similarly, Christina Ricci's go-for-broke intensity and vulnerability will leave few forgetful of the receding star's talent; the film serves to highlight both a return to form as actors.

Brewer may not have known exactly how to finalize all of the unique elements his morality-as-exploitation film implements-some of the behavior of it's characters remain laughably sensationalist, and the underlying thematic resolution, as gained by these two main players coming to an understanding of each other, feels slightly forced (exemplified in a tacked-on end), but he is not trying to make a documentary-like piece of fiction here, he is striving for something equal parts sinister and joyous, and in that effect has largely succeeded with this wonderful piece of Dixie pulp.
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Thought-provoking story, solid performances
knoxgigs13 February 2007
Well worth the ticket price, Black Snake Moan offers audiences a well-written, overall enjoyable movie. Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci both play believable versions of their characters, and honorable mention to Justin Timberlake, who filled his role with credibility. The setting is very realistic, both inside and outside scenes, and the costuming/makeup is on par with the rest of the film's production standards. The story tests viewers with initial questionability, wanting you to choose either Ricci's or Jackson's character as your hero, and leaving you feeling fulfilled either way. A healthy exercise in modern cinema and acting, Black Snake Moan comes highly recommended to anyone curious about it.
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Actresses must kill for parts like this....
MrJigsaw3 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
At the ripe old age of 27 Christina Ricci already has almost fifty credits in IMDb but her work here as the redneck nymphomaniac in "Black Snake Moan" is the best I've seen (with "Monster" a close second). A part like this almost can't be overplayed. Sporting a rebel-flag tank-top (and often little else) and funky tattoos and armed with cigarettes, booze, drugs and other fun props including a very very very long heavy chain (no false advertising here, folks), Ricci shoots the moon and swan-dives gloriously into her abused-and-abusive character. I didn't even notice her enormous forehead this time, mostly her enormous eyes (and, yeah, other bodily parts) which are just as waif-like as those of, say, Winona Ryder but edgier and less calculated-seeming. Like Blanche DuBois, her character Rae really does "depend on the kindness of strangers" but gets precious little of that for most of the running time.

With her boyfriend (Justin somebody, was in some band or something?) off to the army, Rae finds a huge void in her life and (shades of "Breaking the Waves") tries to fill it with sex with anything on two legs. Beaten and dumped on a backwoods road by yet another would-be partner, she's discovered by semi-retired musician and small farmer Lazarus, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Not trying to "dis" Jackson by not mentioning him earlier---he's great here, gold-capped teeth and all, just that his part seems an amalgam of parts he's played before; even his shambling gait seems borrowed from a similar role in "A Time to Kill." Lazarus is in a kind of funk of his own, having been dumped by his wife for his younger brother, whom he then almost kills in a bar. For me the least convincing moment of "Moan" is when Lazarus makes a seemingly snap decision to carry the unconscious Rae into his house instead of just going back inside to make an anonymous call to the sheriff; we just have to make a "leap of faith" there. With his open Bible in front of him (I'd be curious what passage that was) he decides he must not only nurse her back to health but keep her chained to the radiator until she gives up her wanton ways.

Kudos to writer/director Craig Brewer for making what ensues seem not only believable but entirely natural, even "pre-ordained." Here as in his previous "Hustle & Flow" he shows great talent for being "life-affirming" without the usual accompanying sappiness. His characters grope towards redemption with "a little help from their friends." There's no conventional "happy ending" but at least they're off the path to self-destruction (for now). Both movies also have a musical theme; I for one greatly prefer gut-bucket blues to hip-hop, so I may even buy the soundtrack for this one. The food looked damn good, too; good thing I don't live in the South, I'd probably weigh a ton. So treat yourself to "Black Snake Moan," possible "sleeper" hit of the year….By the way is there anyone who hasn't wanted to walk the road in front of an impatient truck driver and "flip him off" at least once in a lifetime (preferably without getting killed)?
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My wife gone left me... and now I'm all alone... and to make matters worse... I watched Black Snake Moan!
BA_Harrison30 December 2007
Unless you're a big fan of diminutive cutie Christina Ricci, and are desperate to see her wearing very little, there's a good chance that you won't stay the distance with Black Snake Moan. At over two hours long, this slow-as-molasses Southern-style tosh is enough to give anyone the blues, despite its promisingly salacious storyline.

Ricci plays Rae, the nymphomaniac wife of soldier Ronnie (Justin Timberlake), who screws around whilst her man is off serving his country (her insatiable lust is apparently the result of having been abused as a child).

After one of her drug-fuelled quests for indiscriminate sex, Rae is beaten up and left on a dirt track, where she is found by a god-fearing blues-man, Lazerus (Samuel L. Jackson), who takes the wayward hussy to his home, nurses her back to health, and sets about curing her of her wickedness (by chaining her up, preaching to her, and singing the blues).

Lazerus and Rae eventually form a (platonic) friendship, but when Ronnie returns home unannounced (discharged due to high anxiety), discovers from a friend that his wife is a slut, and finds her shacking up with Lazerus, he loses his cool, grabs the nearest gun and goes looking for the old musician.

Given the right treatment, this could have been a delightfully trashy slice of exploitation, but with earnest direction from Craig Brewer that shows no hint of being tongue-in-cheek, a dreadful performance from Timberlake, and umpteen laughable Southern stereotypes played completely straight by the stars, Black Snake Moan is rather dull and ultimately disappointing (except for those who are only watching in order to check out Ms. Ricci's knockers).
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