Film Comment - 01/01/2007
"[Ricci is] the white-hot focal point of Brewster's loud, brash, encompassing vision of the soul's dark night survived, peering into the dawn."
Premiere - 03/01/2007
"The blues here plays the role of an elemental force that can summon our deepest fears and rankest desires....[A] provocative picture..."
Box Office - 03/01/2007
"[I]t's a film filled with sly pleasures....It marks Brewer as a much more interesting filmmaker..."
USA Today - 06/29/2007 3 stars out of 4 -- "The film is carried to significant degree by Samuel L. Jackson....The new lean/mean Ricci may remind you of Susan Sarandon."
Ultimate DVD - 06/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "Sweaty, dirty and grimy it may be, just like the music that powers it, but underlying BLACK SNAKE MOAN is a rather sweet story."
Director Craig Brewer follows up his unexpectedly well-received pimp drama, HUSTLE AND FLOW, with this stylish tale of the unlikely connections that are forged when a lost soul attempts to cure a young nymphomaniac of her wicked ways. Set deep down south in a small Tennessee town, the film is titled after and largely driven by the force of blues music. Pulsating with color and bold cinematography, the story forms a visual counterpart to a blues ballad. When divorced ex-musician Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) finds Rae (Christina Ricci) badly beaten by the side of the road, he brings her to his house and chains her to his radiator. Rae has been a wreck since her boyfriend (Justin Timberlake) went off to war, and has spent her time getting into fights and being taken advantage of by just about every man in town. Rae appears to be afflicted with a physical need for sex that no one can cure. As Lazarus watches Rae twitching with pain on his couch, he sees that the young woman's only chance at redemption is in his hands.
While the premise is outlandish, and the film opens itself up for much moral criticism, BLACK SNAKE MOAN has its merits. Deliciously colorful, the film aches with rhythm and dances visually with its subjects. Whether fetishizing Christina Ricci's emaciated body, or making Samuel L. Jackson look years older than he is in real life, the cameras do their job well. Both Ricci and Jackson offer strong performances that mark turning points in their careers. BLACK SNAKE MOAN seems less concerned with how it will be judged than with embodying the sexuality and passion of blues music. No matter how many viewers the film may offend, it succeeds in creating a world that vibrates with desire and raw energy.