Miles on Movies

Black Snake Moan

reviewed by R. Miles Mendenhall

An angry Black man (his woman done him wrong) finds the local town slut beaten and unconscious outside his drive and takes her in to cure her of her nymphomania by chaining her to his radiator and otherwise treating her well. Sort of a chitlin tough love story.

She suffers from some unexplained (could it be the incestuous abuse from her father?) need to do almost every man in sight. This silly and sexist premise turns out to be the center of a stock handling of romance and the needs that flawed people can meet for each other. Ultimately it’s a silly plot, but Samuel L. Jackson and Cristina Ricci give it their best and there are moments of genuine acting going on.

Primal forces of rage, fear, lust, love, and the desire to aid and comfort the weak and damaged are explored, clumsily. Written and directed by Craig Brewer whose “Hustle and Flow” was equally questionable in its sexual politics. The symbolism and sociological significance of a black man chaining up a po’white trash Rebel flag sporting chicklet is left unspoken and unexplored, but it’s there in our faces for all to wonder about.

"Moan" has definite sado-masochistic undertones, especially when Christina expresses her character's frustrated needs by getting all wrapped up in her chain tether. The “Black Snake Moan” isn’t what you think it is. But it is equally simplistic in significance. And no, it is never OK to chain someone up against their will.

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