Black Snake Moan

Black Snake Moan is a 2007 film released on March 2. It was written and directed by Craig Brewer (of Hustle & Flow fame), was filmed in Memphis, Tennessee, and stars Samuel L. Jackson, and Christina Ricci. The title of the film derives from the 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson song.

The movie opens with archived footage with Bluesman Son House saying that the worst kind of blues are the blues caused by love.

Rae (Christina Ricci) and Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) have a romp in the sack before Ronnie has to head off to the army. Afterwards his nerves cause him to throw up while Rae soothes him. Rae has a chronic cough, but is hesitant to go to the grocery store to pick up medicine. Ronnie gives Rae a watch identical to his. Every night the two watches will beep at the same time and they'll think of each other. Gill (Michael Raymond-James) picks up Ronnie in his pickup truck and they head off leaving Rae crying on the lawn. Rae's hunger for sex starts almost immediately and she writhes on the ground like she's possessed.

Reverend R.L. (John Cothran Jr.) is trying to calm down Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson). Lazarus goes inside a small cafe and sits with his wife. She's leaving him for his younger brother because living with Laz makes her feel old.

Rae meets up with the local drug dealer Tehronne (David Banner) to quench her hunger for sex. She apparently meets him for sex every time Ronnie heads out of town. Rae leaves and, still persistently coughing, heads towards the grocery store where her mom works. She and her mom have a very tenuous relationship.

Lazarus goes home and mows down all of his wife's roses with his tractor.

That night Rae goes to a party and gets drunk and stoned to ease her depression over Ronnie leaving her that morning. Gill is at the party and watches her get more and more messed up to the point of playing topless football with some guys and then having sex with one of them on the grass. He picks her up and takes her in his truck. She tries to defend her actions by saying that she begged Ronnie to stay. Gill attempts to have sex with her, but she laughs at him. This infuriates Gill who starts beating her. She isn't moving, so he panics and dumps her out of the truck onto the road.

Lazarus is at a bar that used to be a hot spot because people would come to see him play the blues. Now that bar is pretty empty. His brother comes in and says that he's upset that the meeting Lazarus had with his wife didn't go better and he wanted to try to make sure there was no bad blood between them. Bad blood is an understatement, because Laz smashes a bottle, throws his brother on a pool table and tells him that Cain and Abel would have nothing on them if he ever saw his brother again. A drunken Lazarus goes home and gathers all of his wife's belongings in garbage bags and throws them outside.

The next morning he takes the trash to the end of his driveway and sees Rae laying in the road, half naked and beaten unconscious. He sees she's alive, but realizing a black man would be very suspect if he tried to take a battered white girl to the police or hospital, decides to nurse her back to health himself. She regains consciousness long enough to see he's black and says the name, "Tehronne". Laz goes into town and questions Tehronne about the girl, thinking maybe he beat her. Tehronne tells Lazarus that Rae is the town tramp who has sex with everybody. He says he's not pimping her, so she's free if Lazarus wants a shot at her. Lazarus realizes that Tehronne didn't have anything to do with the beating. He goes to the pharmacy and sees Angela, the pharmacist (S. Epatha Merkerson). He tells her that he's taking care of his niece because his brother doesn't have any money. She has a cough. Angela gives him some cough medicine and says that it's free.

Over the next two days Laz nurses Rae back to health. She has fever dreams of a man with a zippo coming in to rape her. She also runs out of the house in a daze searching for Ronnie, thinking she can hear the sound of his watch beeping. Lazarus decides he's going to take it on himself to try to make Rae's head right too. To keep her from running off again, he chains her to the radiator. Her fever breaks and she finally comes to. She's obviously upset that she's chained to the radiator and tells Lazarus if he wants sex, fine, she just has to be on her way. He tells her he doesn't want sex, he wants to make her right. She tries a couple times to seduce him, but to no avail.

Lazarus goes into town to get her a dress so she'll feel more lady like. He gives Angela a basket of things he made from his garden. Angela asks how his niece's cough is. Lazarus tells her that she's much better now.

While he's in town, a young delivery boy comes over and Rae has sex with him. Lazarus comes home and chases him off. The Reverend R.L. also comes over, worried because he's been trying to call Lazarus for days, but he hasn't answered. Lazarus has hidden the phone to keep Rae from calling anyone. R.L. sees that Lazarus has Rae chained up inside and asks if he's crazy. A black man keeping a white woman captive could get himself killed. Lazarus explains the situation to R.L. and asks for help. R.L. goes inside and talks to Rae. Rae tells him that she thinks the idea of going to heaven just because you apologize for any wrong you did in the world just before you die is silly. R.L. tells her that he kinda thinks the idea of heaven is a little silly and he feels God is someone you turn to when you need help in doing the right thing in life, not someone you apologize to at the end of life.

R.L., Rae, Lazarus and the delivery boy all share a meal that Rae even helped cook.

Meanwhile, Ronnie comes home and goes to a bar. Inside he finds Gill. He explains that he had to come home because the army discharged him because of his nerves. He also tells him that he's been unable to get in touch with Rae and asks if Gill knows where she is. Gill tells him that she probably ran off with someone as soon as Ronnie left.

Lazarus and Rae share some post meal moonshine and Laz proposes a toast to freedom. Rae laughs and says that he's funny. Laz unlocks the chain and says it's not his part to try and change her. That's really up to her. She asks if he'll do something for her. He says he'll do anything she wants.

Ronnie and Gill go to Ronnie's house and sees it's exactly the same as when Ronnie left. Gill tells Ronnie that Rae is a slut who sleeps with everyone as soon as he leaves. He tells him that he even gets with Rae and that's why he knows where everything is in their house. Ronnie gets upset and beats Gill, grabs a gun and leaves.

Lazarus takes Rae into town. He has lunch with Angela while Rae goes to the grocery store to talk to her mom. She tells her mom that all she wants to know is was her mom aware of that fact that she was being molested. Her mom gets defensive and tells her not to put the blame on her because she's a slut. She also tells her that the only regret she has is that she didn't get an abortion. Lazarus sees the commotion at the grocery store, runs in and takes Rae out. Angela follows and asks if Rae is really his "niece".

Lazarus and Rae go to Lazarus' old hangout from the beginning of the movie. As they walk in, Rae thinks she hears Ronnie's watch. The bar is packed. Everyone is there to see Lazarus play the blues. Lazarus puts on a great show and everyone dances and has a good time, including Rae. Through a window, Ronnie watches Rae dance with all the guys.

Archived footage of Son House says that sometime the blues are so bad, they'll make a man kill.

The next morning at Lazarus' home, Rae sings and tries to play a song on the guitar about how much she loves Ronnie. Laz wakes up and tells her he'll play and she can close her eyes and sing. While they play, Ronnie comes in with his gun. Rae opens her eyes and sees Ronnie standing there with the gun to Lazarus' head. Ronnie hits Lazarus. Laz taunts Ronnie telling him if he wants to shoot him for sleeping with his girl, to just shoot him. Ronnie can't shoot him so Lazarus takes the gun away from him. Ronnie starts to have a panic attack so Rae soothes him. Lazarus calls R.L. over to help mediate the situation.

Rae comes clean to Ronnie and tells him that she loves him, but they're both messed up and need each other. She hopes that he'll accept and help her. They reconcile. Lazarus goes to Angela and asks for one more favor. She's to be the maid of honor at Rae and Ronnie's wedding. Laz gives Rae away. As Ronnie and Rae drive off to start their new life together, Angela and Lazarus hold hands. While driving, Ronnie panics when his car is surrounded by semi trucks. He pulls over in a panic and Rae soothes him. It'll be a rough road, but a road they travel together.

For the film, Samuel L. Jackson spent six or seven hours a day for half a year learning how to play blues guitar for several songs he plays throughout the film. Christina Ricci wore an actual forty-pound (18 kg) chain during filming, and ate only food items without any nutritional value to achieve her unhealthy appearance.

Early reviews for the film have been mixed, with the review tallying website reporting that 70 out of the 110 reviews they have tallied thus far have been positive, for an overall score of 64% (a film that scores 60% or higher is certified "fresh"). On the television program Ebert & Roeper, filmmaker Kevin Smith, filling in for Roger Ebert, described the film as the best of the year thus far. Smith praised Ricci and Jackson, saying this was Ricci's best performance and Jackson's best performance since Pulp Fiction (1994). Richard Roeper also gave the film his "thumb up." Critics have been less kind to the performance of Justin Timberlake, who many say doesn't belong in the film. The film earned $4 million, putting it in eighth place for the highest earnings in its opening weekend.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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