June 1, 2008

Black Snake Moan

AKA Late to the Party again :P

LJ copy-pasta, now with fotos. All fotos nicked from IMDb.net, SO graciously.

Anyway, I talked about my first viewing of this movie a while ago and I threatened to talk about it...so I've seen it 1.5 times since then (that is, I've seen it once all the way through and once about half-way) so I'm not going to go on it for a while, that is to say, I'll try to keep it relatively short and give my first impression :P

First off, I remember when this movie was first released waaaay back in 06. There was a big roar about it and no one was ever really sure what the movie was supposed to be from the trailers: was it a comedy? A B movie-styled exploitation film a la something like Grindhouse? Was it serious, funny, black comedy, dramatic, what? Why is Justin Timberlake in it? Does Christina Ricci fuck Samuel L. Jackson? Does Samuel L. Jackson say "motherfucker"?

All these questions, then the movie came out and it got some...lukewarm reception, then it was pretty much in and out real quick, if you get my drift. I think you do. Anyway, all I knew is, I just assumed it was going to be a funny movie and I knew I had to see it.

Well, I couldn't have been wronger. There's anything scarcely funny about this movie, it's an actual DRAMA...and Samuel L. Jackson does, indeed, say motherfucker.

"I'm tired of these motherfuckin' hos on my motherfuckin' radiators!"

The plot is, you have Rae (Ricci) and the love of her life, Ronnie (Timberlake, who actually gained a wee bit of respect as an actor from me). Ronnie goes off to join the army, and Rae inexplicably finds herself being fucked by the town drug dealer, Tehronne (David Banner...no, not the Hulk, the rapper).

It becomes apparent that Rae is...how you say...the town ho. Like, fucking everyone and being fucked by everyone, getting fucked up on drugs and good ol' fashioned LICKAH.

But then on the other hand, you have Lazarus (L. Jackson), a god-fearing blues musician & farmer who's going through a divorce (damn, she cheated on him with his brother) and generally having a few issues. One night, he finds our local whore Rae stranded and beat within an inch of her life on the side of the highway and brings her home and nurses her back to health. He also chains her to a radiator and works to change her whorish ways.

Now, all in all, if that doesn't sound like a damn farce then I don't know what is. But no, as I said, this is actually a serious movie and a very good one at that.

This is basically the story of people with a magazine-subscription of issues, finding each other and STILL having issues: Lazarus, not only going through a divorce but also just trying to put his past behind him and find himself, and figure out his future; Rae is the town whore AND a victim of sexual abuse/incest that her mother allowed to happen; her boyfriend Ronnie is, well, a pussy with severe anxiety and can't even hold a damn gun.

The movie is also really symbolic and metaphorical, especially Rae being chained down. The imagery of her in the chains is kinda something that has to be seen to be explained properly... It's hinted in the beginning that Rae has something like pneumonia and she's hacking all over the damn place but when she's in Lazarus's care she's better again, something I saw as maybe a "sickness of the soul", like she's a sinner and damned, but when she's freed from her bonds she's cured.

Speaking of which, I didn't mention this but I enjoyed the dynamic between Lazarus and Rae (and his preacher friend to some extent, but he's not important right now). That means no, he didn't fuck her. Didn't even think about it, and that's good. The movie does a pretty good job of showing how, even though the two characters are worlds apart and wildly different, they're actually at similar crossroads in their lives. The way Lazarus pretty much descends on Rae and forces his care on her is kinda funny but at the same time telling of how badly he wants to find his place after his wife drops him for his younger brother. And his name being Lazarus, that dude that Jesus brought back from death, coincidence? Yeah, no. While he's helping to heal Rae, she's also helping to heal him, essentially bringing him back from the dead.

Also, Rae's relationship with Ronnie is where it gets a little shaky, but you know how people with problems tend to congregate. Ronnie's in a weird space where he knows he's in love with the residential ragdoll (I LOVE that) but he still has faith that he can "fix" her like she fixes him and deals with his damn near crippling anxiety.

And there's one last thing about the movie I want to talk about real quick, is how real it was. Like, the ending wasn't necessarily a downer but it wasn't happy either. It didn't resolve everything like you'd think it would because, really, there is no resolution: these people are probably going to have all their little issues until the day they die, like we all will, and all they can hope to do is start getting them under control and taking care of themselves.

And so, in conclusion *ahem* I was surprised by Black Snake Moan and pleasantly so. I'm actually glad it didn't turn out to be the "B-movie" I thought it was going to be, otherwise all that potential would have been wasted...

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