Samuel L. Jackson and the Damaged White Folk in Black Snake Moan
How do you make a movie about a dirty blond nymphomaniac chained inside an African American man’s shack in the deep south? Very carefully. Writer and director Craig Brewer fashioned the award winning Hustle and Flow in 2005, which concerns a
Apparently, Craig Brewer thought up Black Snake Moan while filming Hustle and Flow, and while the new film is definitely edgy and original, the story suffers from the Brewer’s heightened concern with the audience’s ethical reaction, and no doubt
For awhile, at least, Black Snake Moan shows plenty of attitude. Strutting around the dirt roads of backwater
Meanwhile, farmer Lazarus has problems of his own: his wife has run off with his younger brother, leaving him angry enough to run a tractor over his wife’s rose patch next to the shack when he’s not threatening his brother with the edge of a broken bottle in the neighborhood honky-tonk. As he throws out her stuff one morning, he stumbles across the town tramp (Rae) nearby, so he carries her inside and starts to nurse her back to health. When investigating her status in town, he learns of her nymphomania, (“She’s got that itch, you know,” as one of her lovers says), so he gradually decides to chain her inside as a crude form of intervention. When she finally wakes up and realizes that she has a large chain tied around her waist, first she tries to escape, and then she tries to seduce him, but Lazarus says with Biblical fervor “I mean to cure you of your wickedness. I ain’t gonna be moved. You ain’t going to bend my will. I’m gonna suffer you.” Samuel L. Jackson is well-suited for the role, especially if one remembers his Ezekial 25:17 speech in Pulp Fiction where he turns a gangster murder into an old testament judgment. There his speech rises to a climactic “And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee” before he and John Travolta shoot the drug dealers in the room.
In Black Snake Moan,
For a time, the two leads have nicely tense scenes, but, unfortunately, Justin Timberlake appears back in town, and the film devolves quickly into histrionics. Craig Brewer wants to make a point about how we all suffer from anxieties, but when the film turns to curing Rae and Ronnie of their problems, I suddenly wanted to leave the theater. Some plot shifts are worse than getting tied down with a forty pound chain.