What You Need To Know:
BLACK SNAKE MOAN is a wildly uneven, improbable tale. It veers between salacious pagan content, including shots that amount to softcore pornography, to strong Christian content. Eventually, the Christian content wins out, but not before the movie has slaked the viewer's thirst for raw, edgy, vulgar material.
(PaPa, CC, FR, HH, BB, Ho, LLL, VV, SSS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Strong mixed, and somewhat confused, pagan worldview that veers wildly between strong immoral content and salacious elements to strong Christian content but with a mixed-up way of inducing repentance (man says, “God put you in my path, and I aim to cure you of your wickedness”), strong humanist content that's somewhat nihilistic, and strong moral content, eventually ending on a positive note with a beginning of healing, including a positive Christian wedding ceremony with a pastor who earlier prayed in the name of Jesus and who uses parts of the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 during the ceremony, plus homosexual element where two women dance very closely together in a bar; at least 69 obscenities (including many “f” words) and nine strong profanities; strong violence includes man punches woman in front seat of car but movie does not show the blows actually landing, gunman threatens man, man dumps stoned woman onto the road and leaves her, man upset about his adulterous wife leaving him chains up a young woman sleeping around on her boyfriend so man can cure her of her wicked ways, running woman falls when she reaches the end of a long chain holding her to a radiator, man threatens his brother with a broken beer bottle, and man sings about a story of shooting people in cold blood; scenes of depicted fornication, implied fornication, older woman leaves husband for another man, salacious shots of promiscuous young woman in skimpy shirt and underwear chained up, promiscuous semi-nude young adult woman grabs younger teenager to fornicate with her, brief hints and talk of earlier child sexual abuse, and suggestive dancing, including seductive dancing between two clothed women almost touching; shots of upper female nudity, some rear male nudity, implied nudity, and woman is shown in her panties a lot; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking, brief marijuana use, man offers marijuana to another man, and woman takes illegal pills to get high; and, man restrains woman to “cure” her of her wickedness, pharmacist gives man cough-curing medicine without a prescription for his sick relative, brief racism, and adulterous woman refuses Christian counseling for her marriage.
BLACK SNAKE MOAN is a wildly uneven, improbable tale that veers between salacious pagan content, including shots that amount to softcore pornography, to strong Christian content. Eventually, the Christian content wins out, but not before the movie has slaked the modern viewer’s thirst for raw, edgy, vulgar material.
Samuel L. Jackson plays Lazarus, a blues singer turned farmer whose wife has just left him for his own brother. Lazarus tries to convince his wife to go to a local church counselor, but she flatly tells him no, because she doesn’t love him anymore.
Christina Ricci plays Rae, an extremely promiscuous young white woman cheating on her boyfriend, Ronnie, who has gone to join the Army. One night, after a stoned orgy with some other guys, Ronnie’s best friend tries to take Rae home. He beats her, however, and leaves her for dead on the side of the road near Lazarus’ farm.
The next day, Lazarus finds Rae unconscious and treats her wounds, including a persistent cough. He finds out about Rae’s wicked ways and, angered at his wife’s own infidelity and Rae’s attempts to seduce him, decides to chain Rae up to cure her. Thus begins a stormy relationship that slowly develops into a figurative father-daughter relationship. Eventually, with help from the local black pastor, Rae begins to see the light, and Lazarus realizes he cannot force people to change.
BLACK SNAKE MOAN could have been a more redemptive, though admittedly quirky, drama. In fact, there are some strong Christian scenes involving the friendly, committed black pastor at the local church. Regrettably, however, the filmmakers keep returning to the more salacious aspects of their story. Thus, mixed in with the movie’s redemptive, Christian scenes about repentance, salvation and moral change are scenes and images with a very strong sexual nature. Some lingering shots of Rae in her underwear with the chain around her body amount to softcore porn. It’s almost as if the movie is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Also, before the movie comes to its redemptive ending, there is a sequence where Rae goes to hear Lazarus play the blues again at the local juke joint. Lazarus plays one non-offensive song during this sequence, but the sequence also includes lots of suggestive dancing and another, extremely profane song that tells a tale of anger and murder. This uneven tone undercuts the redemptive premise in the final story as well as the movie’s entertainment and artistic quality.
BLACK SNAKE MOAN proves that you can’t fix a movie with immoral, salacious content by providing viewers an upbeat, redemptive ending.