Jackson is as assured as ever but stick to the day job, Justin
PUBLISHED: 16:06 30 May 2007 | UPDATED: 14:32 07 September 2010
BLACK SNAKE MOAN (15) Directed by Gary Brewer. Starring Samuel L Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, John Cothran, Michael Raymond-James. 116 mins Three star rating With its Mandingo style posters, raw blues music and wanton sexuality Black Sna
BLACK SNAKE MOAN (15) Directed by Gary Brewer. Starring Samuel L Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, John Cothran, Michael Raymond-James.
Three star rating
With its Mandingo style posters, raw blues music and wanton sexuality Black Snake Moan makes out likes it's going to be an episode of Jerry Springer imagined as a song by Robert Johnson, but by the end it feels like something a lot closer to the Oprah Winfrey Show.
For his previous trick, Hustle and Flow writer/ director Gary Brewer had managed to get the Academy to present an Oscar to the song "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp." Pumped up on that achievement his latest has provocation to spare being a Mississippi tale of an older black man who, after she falls upon his doorstep, takes it upon himself to teach some righteousness to a foul mouthed, trailer trash nymphomaniac through the words of the Lord Jesus and a great big chain.
Jackson has been greyed up to play the aging Lazarus, a former bluesman turned farmer whose woman done gone and left him. On the other side town Rae (Ricci) reacts to her boyfriend Ronnie (Timberlake) going off to join the armed forces with an excess of booze, pills and men; a course that ends up with her lying battered and discarded on the roadside outside Lazarus's farm.
Jackson is predictably good, while Ricci certainly looks fetching in her skimpy outfits but seems a little too eager to accept a redemption that is too easily achieved. Timberlake's character is supposed to be a bit wet but you may feel that he rather overfilled the tub in his performance.
Moan is a mixed bag. It ain't Driving Miss Daisy but it's a lot closer than it thinks it is. Behind some lurid trap-ping there's a respectably fra-med, medium paced, charac-ter piece with little zip or en-ergy. But that's not to say it isn't fun: Jackson is tremen-dous, there's some fine blues music and the occasional funny moment. And surely you have to have a sly regard for the sheer cheek and effrontery of any movie whose message seems to be that these uppity white folks are so messed up and confused that they need the firm upper hand of a righteous black man to set them straight.