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Black Snake Moan
Black Snake Moan SAMUEL L JACKSON (Pulp Fiction, Coach Carter, Shaft), Christina Ricci (Sleepy Hollow) and inter-national pop icon Justin Timberlake star in Craig Brewer's Black Snake Moan — a smouldering, blues-driven tale of redemption. A some-times traumatic but exceedingly watchable vision of other people's lives, Black Snake Moan is a brilliant film, one that keeps you on a see-saw of emotion as you are confronted by the very human behaviour of damaged individuals.

When Lazarus (Jackson) finds the town nymphomaniac Rae (Ricci — being nothing short of magnificent) half naked, beaten unconscious and left for dead at the side of the road, the God-fearing, middle-aged black man takes her under his wing and nurses her back to health.
His unwavering determination to purge her of her sinful addictions
leads him to a war of wills to keep her in his home before he imprisons her and chains her to a radiator.

Jackson and Ricci deliver sizzling, sympathetic and totally believable performances as Lazarus — a bitter and broken ex-blues musician whose wife has left him for his own brother — and the compulsive sex addict and pill-pusher Rae. Justin Timberlake plays Rae's protective roughneck soldier boyfriend Ronnie with equal intensity as we witness his struggle with the traumatic effects of the Iraq war — a war to which he is forced to return, leaving the stricken Rae alone with the dark shadows that torment her.

Held back by their past and unable to shake themselves free of the ghosts that haunt them, the three tortured souls attempt to find peace from their demons. As the sadness of each unfolds, there is
also hope and love in the support the three are able to give.

Rae is sassy, confrontational, obnoxious yet provocative. Sometimes Black Snake Moan is painful to watch, but a particularly revealing scene is Rae's furious assault on her mother and Lazarus's calming influence on her.

Rae and Lazarus begin to communicate and to understand each other and their relationship is touching — especially as Lazarus sings Rae
his blues songs that includes Black Snake Moan, which gives the film
its title. But when Ronnie returns and comes searching for his missing lover, the situation threatens to explode into violence.

A purposeful, big-hearted film that is raw in its disclosure of the dam-age done to the three lead characters but never glories in the past actions and sufferings that have caused that damage. Everyone who worked on this film deserves credit because it is poignant, effective and strongly compelling. Black Snake Moan may also help those going through similar problems understand themselves better by showing why Rae, Ronnie and Lazarus behave the way they do.

Supporting characters worthy of note and exceptionally well introduced are: Angela, played by S Epatha Merkerson; The Reverend R L, played by John Cothran and (surprisingly) Tehronne, played by rapper David Banner. The great drummer Willie Hall also has a small part.

Black Snake Moan is a terrific film. It is cleverly put together with a very brave storyline and a positive conclusion.

This very affecting tale of love, loss and redemption is the third feature by writer/director Craig Brewer. His first film, Hustle & Flow, won an Academy Award for Best Song and the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award. A Paramount Vantage production, Black Snake Moan is produced by John Singleton and Stephanie Allain — who were also responsible for Hustle & Flow.

Black Snake Moan is out now on DVD and is loaded with special feat-ures that include interviews with the cast, a commentary by Craig Brewer, deleted scenes and a photo gallery. Starring Samuel L Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake, the DVD is from Paramount Home Entertainment with Dolby Digital Surround. Running time is 116 minutes and the RRP is 15.99.