26 June 2007

Black Snake Moan

I know, I know, I'm always sayin' oh man, this movie was weird. But seriously, this movie was weird. WEIRD. I have no idea what to make of it.

So let's begin with the basics, the plot. Justin Timberlake, who has a serious anxiety problem, heads out of town to enlist, leaving behind his girlfriend, the demented blonde Christina Ricci. She's got a history of abuse, and some kind of strange disorder where every so often she starts twitching and copulates with anyone in arm's reach. Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson has just been jilted by his wife. He finds Ms. Ricci beaten up and left for dead on the road by his house, and takes her home to fix her up. Then she has one of her twitchy episodes, and he thinks maybe she's possessed by Satan. Then he finds out she's been giving herself to anyone who'll have her, and proceeds to chain her up in his shack for her own damn good. Ok. So the film kind of chronicles these bizarre messed up people who end up fixing and comforting each other, sort of. Now, what's strange about this is the blend of ultra-violence, sex, and psychobabble. No clue what to make of it. Is Ricci's horrific abusive past a kind of metaphor for Satanic possession? Then how do we read Justified's panic attacks? Is Jackson actually a devout believer? Does he undergo some kind of conversion over the course of the film? Does Ricci exorcise her demons? What kind of narrative/symbolic work are the interjecting reflections on the blues? Is there a moral to this story? I mean, other than a kind of bland, look at how people, even messed up people, can end up supporting and helping each other? Is there a point? Is there a more compelling reason for showing all the messed up sex scenes, other than a kind of pornographic voyeurism? Isn't it odd how race both is and isn't an issue? Shit, when is the movie even set?

That said, while it does drag at times, the movie does keep you on the edge of your seat. The fact that Ricci spends most of the film in a very very small top and some panties doesn't hurt. The opening sex scene between Ricci and Timberlake is H.O.T. The cinematography is amazing. Samuel L Jackson is pretty goddamn great. Justified does just fine, Ricci is hot, but a bit cartoonish.

All in all, a really, really strange movie. I have this sense that there's a clear, step by step explanation of it all that I'm missing. If you know it, please, share.

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