Black Snake Moan. Directed and written by Craig Brewer, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci.
, Black Snake Moan came out in 2007 but I didn’t get to see it. As I recall, it was at the movie theater one full day and then disappeared like a puff of smoke. It did not reappear in any of the neighboring towns. A week later, when I asked people that worked at the theater why it had been taken down, they didn’t know what movie I was talking about. Right. I thought long and hard about why the movie was snatched out of the theaters so quickly. The only answer I could come up with was that the south was not going to tolerate a half naked white woman being chained down by some big, crazy, black buck. That is what the advertisements led me to believe the movie was about. What else was I going to think?
Whenever I saw the trailer on television I would laugh. HA! HA! I know its sick but I’m from the emotionally scarred south. The land where white woman virtue hood was protected at all costs against the black beast and black women were skewered like pigs on a roast … by everyone. Anyhoo, the ads solicited perverse titillation. As a feminist, I should have been ashamed to admit that I found the trailers showing a trashy white woman being tethered like a wild animal by Samuel Jackson (Lazarus) funny. Oh please. Oxymorons are supposed to be funny. Aren’t they?
Last week, I purchased the DVD. I hadn’t bothered to find out who was in the film since I imagined it didn’t really matter. All I expected to see was Samuel dragging Miss Suzy around. I saw the film in private because I didn’t want any of my friends to know that I watched something that looked like a woman was being abused for the sake of male arousal. Ahem.
I put the DVD in and settled into my favorite armchair, and waited for the sickness to start. The movie opened with a man and a woman kissing. Not Samuel. A white guy. Oh my goodness he was kissing that little girl from the Addams Family movies! After I got over my shock I realized she wasn’t a cute little girl. She was all grown up and quite hawt. The man looked a pretty picture too. Their kiss scene was quite sexy. I kept thinking that the man looked like Justin Timberlake but surely it wasn’t him or it would have been blown out of proportion when they advertised on the television. That’s what I reasoned, so naaah, it couldn’t be Justin.
As I watched the movie, I realized how wrong my assumptions had been. The blame goes to the Black Snake marketing team. I thought I would watch a little bit of nothing but it turned out to be a whole lot of something. Absolute brilliance is what it was. The story was both strange and beautiful. This combination always works for me. Once I’d realized the depth of what I was watching, I felt ashamed of my previous thoughts. I was a bad feminist.
I’m not going to give explicit details about the movie because I hate it when people do that to me. By the time I tell you about every scene, detail by detail, you will no longer have a reason to watch the movie. All I will say is that it is a story about two wounded people finding redemption in an unexpected way.
The actors were all fantastic but I’m going to mention only three. Samuel Jackson, as always, gets two hands up which is way better than two thumbs up. Christina Ricci was stupendous. Her dyed blonde hair even looked good. Who knew? Because of how well she played the role of Rae, I’m now a big fan and hope to see her in more movies. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the guy that looked liked Justin Timberlake really was Justin Timberlake. Yikes. The boy is now a man. His acting wasn’t bad either.
Expensive special effects and watching cars and buildings being blown up does not impress me. What’s important is a good story and characters that feel real. That’s why I love Jim Jarmusch movies. Because Craig Brewer made the story and characters so vivid and mesmerizing in Black Snake Moan, I’m now going to look out for more of his work.
I recommend this movie to all thinking adults. Go out and buy it right now! Craig deserves every penny. I do have one word of advice for Mr. Brewer though. Don’t use that Boy’s Club marketing team ever again. They sucked. They kept people that could actually appreciate your movie from watching it and solicited males who couldn’t take their hands out of their pockets long enough for their brains to work. Check out the comment shown on Wikipedia about the marketing. In April 2008, Christina Ricci commented on the promotional movie poster for the film, claiming it exploited women: “The way that movie was marketed was probably one of the most disappointing and upsetting things that’s ever happened to me in my career. I have no interest in exploiting women any further than they’ve already been exploited…All they [marketing bosses] cared about was college-age boys going to see it.”
Pay attention Hollywood. Your marketing caused this movie not to do as well as it should have at the box office.