Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Black Snake Moan

When I saw that this movie has only been reviewed once I was very surprised. However, I caught the matinee showing of this movie several months ago and noted that the theater was practically empty. For some reason, this movie didn't succeed in drawing a crowd. I thought with Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci that this film would have enough star power to draw people in. I think it went unnoticed in a sea of other releases. That is really too bad, because this film was an excellent piece of drama, skillfully presented. If you missed it at the theater, you definitely need to catch it on video.

The concept of this movie isn't necessarily original. There have been many movies where a young person finds an older person to mentor there ways. These films normally have elements of misunderstanding or dislike between the characters leading to an ultimate reconciliation and a happily ever after ending. This film takes a much darker approach to the idea and deftly works some deep issues into the story without dragging the film down. This film tells the story of a troubled girl in a relationship headed for disaster before it ever begins. The girl's boyfriend heads off to the military to try and make a better future for them. After being beaten silly by her boyfriend's best friend she awakens to find herself chained to a strange man's radiator. The movie teases us with possible scenarios and keeps us guessing regarding where the movie is going. We get the happily ever after, but the journey is much darker and deeper than frilly versions of this story.

I mentioned the star power in this film. They could not have cast the lead, Lazarus, any better than by selecting Samuel L. Jackson for this role. In some respects, I was reminded of Jackson's role in Pulp Fiction where he loved to quote the prophets. In this film he plays an ultra religious backwoods type whose wife has left him for his younger brother. While excorcising his demons he sees this young lady as divine intervention. The young lady, played by Christina Ricci, is the town tramp and has a very strong propensity to find herself in bed with strange men. Ricci has a difficult role. Her character exhibits a strange combination of fear, appreciation and primal urges. The chemistry between Jackson and Ricci make this film what it is. The strange love relationship that evolves between them is sometimes frightening, but mostly tender and ultimately as strong as any family bond.

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