Sunday, March 27, 2016

Black Snake Moan

Year 8, Day 87 - 3/27/16 - Movie #2,287

BEFORE: I'm essentially skipping Easter, I've got nothing appropriate to schedule, so I'll just continue with Samuel L. Jackson week.  Well, I've got "Exodus: Gods & Kings", but to me that's more of a Passover film, and Passover isn't until late April, so I've got it scheduled for then.  

THE PLOT:  A God-fearing bluesman takes to a wild young woman who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it.

AFTER: Thankfully, there are no snakes in this film, except the one mentioned in the title.

But there is some church-related stuff, so perhaps my instincts were spot-on in programming this for Easter Sunday.  (Then again, perhaps it's one of a thousand coincidences that has occurred in this project, simply by virtue of watching so many films on so many topics.)  There's a Reverend who visits Lazarus, to try to convince him that maybe chaining up a woman in his house to cure her of her nymphomania is maybe not a good idea.  

I should back up a bit, and explain that this is a film about a black man who chains up a white woman, but it's for her own good.  Umm, I guess?  This is a tough one to judge because it rides that fine line between arty festival film and straight-up bondage porn.  (If I only had a nickel for every film that met those requirements...)  But the character of Rae is suffering, not only from some kind of cough and fever, but also from the psychological symptoms of abuse.  And somehow this is all connected to her inability to stay faithful to her husband.  Somebody should have explained to the director the difference between the fever you get from a cold and the "fever" of sexual desire.  Not really the same thing.  

And I don't mean to belittle people who have suffered or endured abuse (seen here only in flashback, Rae apparently abused by an out-of-focus father or stepfather) but I have to take issue with the concept that all they need to overcome it is discipline, which here takes the form of being chained up in a stranger's house, which on the surface level, seems like another form of abuse.  While the man who chains her up has good intentions, it just doesn't seem like the proper way of going about things - it's debatable whether the cure is worse than the disease.  

Of course, Lazarus is going through his own crisis, with his marriage having recently fallen apart.  And I guess we're supposed to understand that the encounter that these two people have changes both of them for the better, exorcises their demons and gets them both ready to love again, according to God's plan.  But still, I come back to the fact that this is accomplished by him chaining a stranger to the radiator until she agrees to straighten up and fly right.  Talk about "tough love"...   

But then, I'm no expert on rural Mississippi, maybe this is just the way things work down there. 

Also starring Christina Ricci (last seen in "Monster"), Justin Timberlake (last seen in "Inside Llewyn Davis"), Michael Raymond-James (last seen in "Jack Reacher"), S. Epatha Merkerson (last seen in "Jacob's Ladder"), David Banner (last seen in "The Butler"), Adriane Lenox (ditto), John Cothran, Kim Richards. 

RATING: 5 out of 10 bottles of cough syrup

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