Black Snake Moan (R)

Drama 116 March 2, 2007
By Rob Nelson
It may be hard out there for a pimp, but it ain't too hard for a writer-director to make a movie whose marketing hinges on the lurid spectacle of Samuel L. Jackson pulling a half-naked Christina Ricci around on a chain. As in his Hustle & Flow, Craig Brewer only allows himself so much nasty fun before it's time to issue his trick-turners their hard-earned redemption: Jackson's chain-yankin' Lazarus learns to temper his righteous indignation; Ricci's Rae, she of the belly-baring Confederate flag-tee and unclean panties, puts on some decent clothes and even reckons she might get hitched; and the filmmaker begins to direct his grindhouse fantasy of female enslavement as if it were Our Town. For Lazarus (or Brewer), scrubbing this bad girl's soul means not subjecting her to slavery so much as getting her to work in the kitchen, to sing "This Little Light of Mine" (no kidding), to appreciate a talking blues sermon about the hellfire horrors of abortion. Black Snake Moan never promised to be boring, but by God it is. After his camera has had its fill of ogling Rae, Brewer turns out to have nothing up his sleeve, nothing in his pants, and only a little on his mind -- and none of it, amazingly, to do with race.
Craig Brewer Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson, John Cothran Jr., Michael Raymond-James, Adriane Lenox Craig Brewer Stephanie Allain, John Singleton Paramount Vantage

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