Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer
How can I be and feel forgiven? Answer
If God forgives me every time I ask, why do I still feel so guilty? Answer
I think I was sexually abused, but I’m not sure. What is sexual abuse, and what can I do to stop the trauma I am facing now? Answer
|Featuring:||Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, John Cothran Jr., Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson, Michael Raymond-James|
|Producer:||John Singleton, Stephanie Allain, Craig Brewer|
“Everything is hotter down South.”
I am going to be completely honest with you all here, “Black Snake Moan” is simply not a film that Christian men need to be seeing. Nor is it one that Christian women will want their men seeing. In fact, perhaps it would have been better for a woman to have reviewed it, instead of me subjecting myself to the constant barrage of sexual images found in the film. I have to admit, I felt a little sleazy in the theater, surround mostly by adult men by themselves, and likely would have left were it not for the fact that as a reviewer, I just have to stick it out till the end. So, what follows is my review, based on the film’s merits, and my caution, based on the film’s content.
Samuel L. Jackson plays Lazarus, a blues musician struggling to cope with the betrayal of his wife, who has run off with his brother. He is a church-going man with a self-acknowledged bad streak that he is trying his hardest not to indulge. He minds his own business in his home in the woods, and for the most part is bothered by no one. One day, while taking his trash out to the dumpster on the main road, he finds a woman badly beaten on the side of the road, wearing little more than underwear. He knows he should help, but also knows that his past run-ins with the law would cause the police to be awfully suspicious if he walked into the police station carrying the beaten, half-naked body of a white girl.
So, he takes her into his home, places her on the couch, and tries to nurse her back to health. He runs into town to pick up some things to take care of her, but also describes the girl to a local to see if they might know who she is, without telling them how he knows her or that she is at his home. He finds out her name is Rae (Christina Ricci), and that she is quite familiar to the many men throughout the town. Her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) left town to join the military, and less than two hours after he was gone, she was in bed with another man. Lazarus is disgusted to hear this, and takes it on himself to cure her of her sinful ways. He starts this by chaining her up in his house, hoping that he will be able to talk some sense into her, before her unbridled lusts wind up killing her.
As strange a movie as this truly is, and for how strange it certainly probably read on script, Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci have to be commended for the risks they both take frequently in films, but most notably here. Honestly, there isn’t anyone else I could have imagined in either role. Both performers are known for taking chances, and here they lay themselves open to something completely original, and quite controversial. Both of their performances are outstanding, each so different and yet so alike, as they play two people wounded by others and by the world, and seeking solace anywhere they can find it. Jackson even sings the blues for us a few times towards the end of the film, and surprises us with his impressive talents in that arena, as well. From a technical standpoint, “Black Snake Moan” is a bizarre, totally original film that resonates because it is so unflinchingly real in its observations on pain and the road to redemption.
But, putting aside all that, it isn’t a film for Christian audiences. I have said earlier, Christian men viewing this film will be bombarded by sexual images, situations, and discussions that they truly could do without. Rae spends most of the movie in very little clothing that leaves nothing to the imagination. We see nudity as well, in frequent sex scenes throughout; in fact, the very first scene of the film features her and her boyfriend having sex. There are also a few strange and disturbing scenes where Rae is overcome with lust and passion, and writhes on the ground like a woman possessed.
The language in the film is constant and very strong. There are many profane references, as well as offensive uses of the Lord’s name. Even the pastor in the film (who I will discuss in a moment) profanes God’s name, to which Lazarus reminds him that he might not want to be doing that considering his line of work. There is also explicit sexual dialogue in the film. The pastor in the film uses as much language as the rest of the cast, and is as frequent a guest at the local bar as Lazarus once was. He even has the opportunity to share the saving power of Jesus Christ to Rae, and to explain to her the beauty of grace and forgiveness, but he winds up talking about how he has trouble believing some of that stuff anyway.
This is the most disappointing scene in the film. Rae is beginning to see her struggles for what they are, and understands that what she does is wrong, but explains to the pastor that the idea of Jesus forgiving all sins is simply ludicrous, She doesn’t say this to blaspheme, she simply cannot see how God could wipe a person’s slate clean when they have done so many wrong things. I know there are so many people in the world who have to be wondering the same thing, even people in situations much like hers—people who have been shamed and humiliated by someone when they were young, and look to anything and anyone to hide their embarrassment and guilt over something they couldn’t control. I wanted to reach out to her and explain that the beauty of grace and forgiveness lies in the blood Christ shed to set us free from the sins we feel so repulsed by, and are sure repulse God even more. But, the advice and direction she gets is standard fare for movies like this, but I honestly wasn’t expecting more than that, I was just a little discouraged.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.