There was a time when Lazarus played the blues; a time he got Bojo’s Juke Joint shakin’ back in the day. Bitter and broken from a cheating wife and a shattered marriage, Lazarus’ soul is lost in spent dreams and betrayal’s contempt until Rae. He discovers her half naked and beaten unconscious on the side of the road where she was for dead. The God-fearing, middle-aged black man quickly learns that the young white woman he’s nursing back to health is none other than the town tramp from the small Tennessee town where they live. Worse, she has a peculiar anxiety disorder. He realizes when the fever hits, Rae’s affliction has more to do with love lost than any found. Abused as a child and abandoned by her mother, Rae is used by just about every man in the phone book. Refusing to know her in the biblical sense, Lazarus decides to cure Rae of her wicked ways. By unleashing Rae emotionally, Lazarus unchains his heart and frees himself.
Cast + crew
Starring : Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci,Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson
John Cothran Jr.
Director : Craig Brewer
Producers : Stephanie Allain, John Singleton
Screenwriters : Craig Brewer
Release Date: February 23, 2007
Runtime: 116 minutes
Review by Rollingstone
As he proved in 2005 — with his rap about how it’s hard out here for a pimp in Hustle & Flow — writer- director Craig Brewer doesn’t just use music in film, he lets it breathe. It’s raw Memphis blues, from Blind Lemon Jefferson to R.L. Burnside and Jessie Mae Hemphill, that informs Brewer’s Black Snake Moan. But, oh lordy, when the music stops, this movie needs a respirator. Look, I’m not knocking Brewer — the dude has a real talent for evoking atmosphere — and the eye-filling sight of a mostly naked Christina Ricci, playing Tennessee white trash with her own spin on “she’s gotta have it,” is unassailable. But this time Brewer substitutes provocation for substance. And that dog won’t hunt. No sooner has Rae (Ricci) sent her boyfriend, Ronnie (Justin Timberlake), off to the Army and Iraq, she’s getting it on with her drug dealer, the football team and Ronnie’s best friend — he’s the jerk who rapes her and leaves her for dead on a dirt road.
Rae’s awakening comes courtesy of — symbol alert — Lazarus, played by a graybeard Samuel L. Jackson. Lazarus, a former blues musician (Jackson sings, effectively), takes in this wild child, chains her to his radiator and gets fired up to cure her of her sex sickness. Offensive on multiple levels — if only the plot had any levels at all — Black Snake Moan leaves no Tobacco Road cliche unsmoked. Ricci gives it her all, and then some, but even her body and Jackson’s blues can’t heal a movie that rockets plum off its nut.