Like his award-winning 2005 drama Hustle & Flow, writerdirector Craig Brewer evokes the sights and soulful sounds of Tennessee in Black Snake Moan. Sadly, when the music isn't playing, he hits a lot of bum notes with this far-out fable of redemption. The bonkers plot sees Samuel L Jackson chain Christina Ricci to a radiator in order to 'cure' her raging sex drive, and frankly, it looks like Brewer could use a bucket of cold water too...
After boyfriend Ronnie (a sulky-faced Justin Timberlake) joins the army, Rae (Ricci) spreads herself about their small southern town like butter on cornbread. One especially raucous evening ends with her lying in the road semi-naked and bleeding, where washed-up blues singer Lazarus (Jackson) discovers her. Still nursing a grudge against his cheating wife, he resolves to put this young 'un back on the path to "righteousness", which for him means a little light bondage.
"MOST SCENES COME ACROSS AS UTTERLY RIDICULOUS"
For half the film, Ricci writhes around in chains wearing tiny underpants while Lazarus pontificates. Although both parties play their roles with total conviction, the indulgence of soft porn aesthetics severely undermines their efforts. With little attention paid to fleshing out Rae's character (as opposed to getting her flesh out), most scenes come across as utterly ridiculous. When Brewer finally reveals the root cause of Rae's behaviour, it's so simplistic it has little impact. The only time emotions are stirred is when Lazarus picks up his guitar and sings the blues. This is an unusually bold film, but it's also a morality tale that's riddled with hypocrisy and is frankly offensive. Not a blues movie as much as a blue movie.
Black Snake Moan is released in UK cinemas on Friday 18th May 2007.