Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Black Snake Moan


What this movie ‘bout, it be ‘bout de blues, dog! One man, his baby done lef’ him … for his younger brothah! I ax you, there be anyt’ing more likely to give a niggah de blues dan dat? And dis girl, she sleep around, don’t get no respect, and get whup upside her head. An dis other dude, his woman sleep aroun’ on his sorry ass, he don’ get no respect, and it tearin’ him up inside, like a Mason jar full o’ gasoline. ‘Bout all dat don’ happen here is ain’t nobody’s dog up and die.
Seriously, it’s hard to know what to make of this movie. It was made by the guy who did Hustle and Flow, which I had serious reservations about. But I have to admire his balls. That movie was about a pimp, and this one is about the town pump. Naturally, she’s a nymphomaniac because she was abused, and the only way she knows to get love is by fucking everybody in sight. Samuel L Jackson finds her left for dead on the side of the road, and ends up putting her through a sort of backwoods intervention, thinking he can exorcise the evil from her. This involves chaining her to the radiator. And damn if she doesn’t look evil sometimes. You almost expect her head to turn around as she gushes green vomit. The imagery here is right out of those old Erskine Caldwell paperbacks, God’s Little Acre, or Tobacco Road, with a touch of B&D thrown in. And it’s very powerful. Christina Ricci spends half the movie in nothing but panties and the suggestion of a T-shirt. Pretty much just the T part. It is a gutsy performance, from a woman who has shown her willingness to take on gutsy parts. Jackson plays the guitar and does his own singing, and he’s good. The music alone is enough reason to see this, no matter what you think of it.
And I still don’t know. These are severely damaged people, and the stock answers and solutions to their problems just wouldn’t help them much. Maybe the old bluesman does the right thing, though you cringe when he chains her up. This is not the material for happy endings, but somehow the writer manages to get one, or at least as happy as could be credible.