Weird without being truly weird, Black Snake Moan is a movie about sex addiction and the power to overcome said addiction with the power of friendship and determination - all in the setting of some southern hick town.
Black Snake Moan stars Christina Ricci as a young white trash woman engaged to soldier Justin Timberlake, who has just been sent off to Iraq. As soon as he is deployed, however, her urges get the better of her and she starts sleeping with the local drug dealer. Her sex cravings lead her to get into the car with her fiancé’s best friend, but before anything happens she finds herself beaten delirious by the man and left for dead on a country road. Enter Samuel L. Jackson, badass hick who finds her, nurses her back to health and then decides to chain her up in his own house to rid her of her "evil curse". While the situation is at first suspect, the two develop a unique friendship as Ricci struggles to overcome her urges.
It sounds weird, but in reality, the execution by director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) isn't nearly as off-the-wall as you'd expect. Sure, there are definitely some odd moments, but Black Snake Moan is really just a strange romantic drama that doesn't have too much romance or too much real drama. Despite sticking strong to a specific genre, the movie is consistently engaging, though not necessarily captivating.
Timberlake turns in a good performance, though it is nothing compared to his Alpha Dog one; regardless, this Mickey Mouse Club dude is showing he might actually have a future in acting, especially compared to his ex, Ms. Britney. The real highlights are the stars, as you might imagine; Jackson is at the top of his game here, as he gets to play a rough, idealistic but bitter bastard who gets to be the good guy and still chain up a nearly naked girl in his house. Ricci is equally good, and while I've never doubted her acting ability, I had been curious to see how she'd do here. I've never really viewed her as a sexy star, but she pulls it off wonderfully here, as not only does she look pretty smoking, but also maintains her streak of delivering flawed and generally twisted characters.
The movie itself is pretty good. I can't say I loved it, but I liked it. I can't say I'd watch it again, but if need be, I could handle it. Would I recommend it? To the right people. Black Snake Moan has painted a rather basic story over a weird concept, and it won't be for everyone's taste. It's not a romance, it's not a comedy, it's not a drama, and it's certainly not an action movie... it just is Black Snake Moan. If you like the dark and off beat, or you like Ricci or Jackson, then check this one out; you may be pleasantly surprised.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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