Black Snake Moan

The title of this movie comes from a 1927 blues song by blind lemon Jefferson and has two startling performances from leads Jackson and Ricci, he a Christian blues man called Lazarus, she Rae a troubled white trash teenager. The unusual pairing of these two troubled souls is the basis of this bizarre story of redemption and love. Set in the Deep South we meet the promiscuous Rae, sexually abused as a child and now looking for love in all the wrong places, she seems set up with Ronnie until he leaves to join the army and she returns to her old ways. After one debauched night of drink, drugs and sexual assault Rae is given a lift home by Ronnie’s friend who beats her and leaves her for dead on the side of the road only to be discovered by Lazarus the next morning. Like a guitar playing Good Samaritan Laz puts aside his own problems to nurse Rae back to health and what follows is a beautiful and strange relationship that sees Laz helping Rae through hard life lessons, the bible and blues. Jackson is astonishing as the grizzled old guitarist who’s wife has left him and finds some sort of  solace in trying to help Rae exorcise her demons and in turn hopefully help him a little too along the way. Ricci is simply stunning as the abused nymphomaniac all attitude and fire wrapped up in hot pants and a vest top. The characters are properly backwater and the music is really powerful, especially when Jackson performs the title track in a lightning storm during one of Rae’s haunting flashbacks. Yes its overly sexual, yes I think some people with take the film the wrong way but in the end you have a great little film with a great cast and great story. The performances carry most of the weight of the movie but it is also the sum of its parts that will stay with the viewer after the credits have rolled.

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