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  Publicity Stills of "Black Snake Moan"
(Courtesy from UIP)

Genre: Drama
Director: Craig Brewer
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson, John Cothran, Michael Raymond-James
RunTime: 1 hr 56 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes)
Official Website: http://www.moanmovie.com

Release Date: 7 June 2007 (Exclusively at Orchard Cineplex)

Synopsis :

There was a time when Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) played the blues; a time he got Bojo's Juke Joint shakin' back in the day. Now he lives them. Bitter and broken from a cheating wife and a shattered marriage, Lazarus' soul is lost in spent dreams and betrayal's contempt... Until Rae (Christina Ricci).

Half naked and beaten unconscious, Rae is left for dead on the side of the road when Lazarus discovers her. The God-fearing, middle-aged black man quickly learns that the young white woman he's nursing back to health is none other than the town tramp from the small Tennessee town where they live. Worse, she has a peculiar anxiety disorder. He realizes when the fever hits, Rae's affliction has more to do with love lost than any found. Abused as a child and abandoned by her mother, Rae is used by just about every man in the phone book. She tethers her only hope to Ronnie (Justin Timberlake), but escape to a better life is short-lived when Ronnie ships off for boot camp. Desperation kicks in, as a drug-induced Rae reverts to surviving the only way she knows how, by giving any man what he wants to get what she needs... Until Lazarus.

Movie Review:

Craig Brewer looks lovingly at the South as a stormy, redemptive canvas of forgotten blues and heated sexuality threatening to seethe to the top. Following the undervalued “Hustle & Flow”, Brewster’s penchant for wreathing gender roles, stoic religiosity and music into a fireball of provocative pulp is amplified. He transforms the sticky, lurid atmosphere of the Deep South’s salacious bravado into a passionate bravura of flaunty tells and brazen intimations of bondage, kinks and slavery in “Black Snake Moan”, one of the year’s best films.

This is no weightless homage to exploitation cinema, a trait that endless Tarantino clones pursue in a vain attempt to facetiously offset their own limitations at fanboy fantasy, an epidemic that inadvertently castrates the genre's interpretive tendons for the sole purpose of glorifying hollow spectacles. “Black Snake Moan” is in its very essence a part of exploitation cinema with a cranial capacity to include its own ravaged spirit, vitality and neurosis. Its decency of worth lies in its outrageous obscenity, an attribute that makes it so disarmingly life affirming.

The raw charm that it exudes is sagacious in manner as is its crudely effectual symbolisms. The biblical blues man Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) is also a broken man, fraught with the burn of love’s betrayal and looking for salvation through his embittered righteous benevolence. And the scandalised, apparently vandalised visage of the aptly named Rae (Christina Ricci) is abandoned at the side of dirt road for the reformative Lazarus to pick up, and then chain up to a radiator.

It’s the visual intensity of this imagery that propels its psychology. An emaciated, feral white girl barely covered in tattered rags, a Confederate flag in the background and an angry black musician leashing her gives way to a transgressive milieu that’s fittingly guided down South, a hotbed rife with racial tensions, tenuously soothed by the calming rhythms of the blues. And it is to Brewer’s credit that he does not pontificate, or even nigh explore the themes he resiliently showcases. But just as there was in the stylings of true exploitation, there’s an unanxious and casual evocation of absurdity in this film. With a character that could have been merely presented as a means to an unwelcoming end, Ricci’s nymphomaniacal Rae is the epicentre of Brewer’s earth shattering truisms of neglected, emotionally disabled people who redeem each other. In Rae’s debauched frenzy, Ricci does not just rise to the occasion. She becomes the occasion.

Brewer’s exaggerated storytelling magnifies the illusory artifice of cinema and reveals a clearer picture of hopelessness and wont despair. The audacity exemplified through his confrontational arrangements of disparities that subvert the status quo is in of itself a cause for comfort, and that its incendiary conflicts manage a spark of perceptive lyricism through its convictions.

Movie Rating:

(Intense and sincere, the best film of the year so far)

Review by Justin Deimen

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