Black Snake Moan – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Craig Brewer

Cast

Christina Ricci Rae
Samuel L. Jackson Lazarus
Justin Timberlake Ronnie
S. Apatha Merkerson Angela
John Cothran Jr Reverend R.L.
Michael Raymond-James Gill

DVD Release Date: June 26, 2007
Rating: R
Running Time: 115 Minutes

The Movie

Lazarus is a bit of a God-fearing man that is living his life just like anyone else. He raises crops to sell in town and actually has some of the best around. He’s also been married for many years and thinks all is well. Until he finds out his wife had been cheating on him with his brother which makes all his well-being go straight to hell. Without much to lose, he simply lets the woman go and starts living his life alone.

Rae is a tiny little thing that is in love with her boyfriend Ronnie. They have everything they need in each other. That is until Ronnie is shipped off into the military and Rae realizes a few hours later that she is incredibly lonely. Something about Rae makes her have this extreme yearning for sex. She will do anything she can to have sex and it really doesn’t matter who she gets it from.

Rae wasted no time in pleasing her urges with the town’s local pimp and then headed to a party for the evening. After getting extremely drunk and having sex with someone else at the party, Ronnie’s best friend Gill volunteers to drive Rae home. Gill decides that if everyone else can, why can’t he? So he tries to have his turn at Rae but after a little bit of ridicule at his expense and a few hard blows from his fist; Rae ends up bloody, bruised, and left for dead on the side of the road.

Out doing his morning chores the next day and throwing some trash to the roadside, Lazarus turns around to find Rae’s broken body. Knowing that the right thing to do is to help her before she ends up dying, Laz takes her into his home to care for her. But he also knows how it will look if a big black man takes a beaten small white woman into town, so he decides to head to the pharmacy himself and get some medicine.

After a few days of rest, Rae comes to her senses and wonders what Laz has done to her. When he explains to her that he has learned about her and knows the errors of her ways and plans to fix her, she doesn’t really care. But as Rae tries to leave, she realizes that there’s something holding her back in the form of a long chain attached to a radiator. Through the help of that chain, God’s word, and some old fashioned blues music, Lazarus plans to change Rae and turn her into the good person he knows she can be.

Black Snake Moan is by far one of the best films I have seen in a long time just for the enjoyment factor alone. But there is also a much deeper message to come from it and that increases the quality of the film even more. Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci play their roles perfectly as if they have been a down on their luck blues musician or white trash abused nympho for years. And when those two extreme personalities come together and are portrayed so well, that the chemistry between the two actors makes for some great scenes. And considering they are on screen for 90% of the film, they had to make sure it was good.

The music in the film really makes it even more of a complete success. After watching it through the first time, I actually went back to the scene selection so I could watch the moments when Samuel L. Jackson got out his guitar and sang. They are just really that good, enjoyable and moving that the soundtrack may end up being the first CD I have purchased in close to five years.

Besides the great acting by the leads, the fantastic music, and excellent story making Black Snake Moan already worth your time and money, there is one more thing. That would be Justin Timberlake. Not a fan of his music under any circumstances, his acting ability is getting better and quickly making me a fan. Even though his on screen time as Ronnie is limited, he plays the role so incredibly well that he would have to be considered one of the most intriguing characters in the entire film. He has really come a long way from the pop dancing boy band member to a legitimate actor.

The Video

The film is shown in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and looks beautiful. The dull drab colors of rundown homes, old wood floors, and dead grass look perfect while the bright colors of fresh vegetables, Lazarus’ guitar, and Rae’s bloody face are crisp and clear. An almost perfect transfer to DVD.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and is some of the best I’ve ever heard. The dialogue can all be heard perfectly fine but it’s the musical score that is the true gem. Considering how integral a part of the film the music is; the DVD sounds absolutely beautiful with some of the best songs I’ve heard in a very long time.

Special Features

Audio Commentary – Director Craig Brewer sits down and discusses his film and how personal it was to him during filming. He gives some great insight into all the feeling that went into making Black Snake Moan and the intense amount of feeling that is behind every aspect of it.

Deleted Scenes – There are about six deleted or extended scenes and it’s sort of a mixed bag if any of them should have been left in the final cut. A lot of the extended scenes were left out and that is a good thing because they would have added nothing and actually taken away some of the strength from what was finally presented. But a few of the scenes left out completely wouldn’t have hurt being kept in especially one where Rae asked Lazarus if she could sleep in his bed with him.

“Conflicted: The Making Of Black Snake Moan – A basic “making of” featurette with interviews from cast and crew about how it was during filming. Some interesting little tidbits and trivia about those in the film and certain props are fun to learn and quite amusing at times in this close to thirty minute feature.

“Rooted In The Blues” – An inside look at the music of the film and the musicians who created it. Director Craig Brewer talks about how a lot of the musicians in the film are actually friends of his whom he would like to see presented to the world so everyone can enjoy their work. Quite an interesting look at what is a very key component to Black Snake Moan.

“The Black Snake Moan – In 1927, Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded the song “Black Snake Moan” about being blind and all the things in his room he couldn’t see that could possibly get him. Brewer heard the song and then heard it rerecorded from acoustic to electric and knew that was to be the overall theme for the film. A short but good look at the timeline of the song and how it fits into the story.

Photo Gallery – Still frames from the film and filming of. There are a couple good shots in here, especially some black and white ones from the scene where Lazarus is singing to Rae on a stormy night.

TrailersYear Of The Dog, Zodiac, Shooter, and Hustle & Flow

The Inside Pulse

There’s no reason for you not to add this DVD to your collection. It is a film full of some really good acting and a story that sends a message as well as entertains you. Truly unforgettable performances and some moving music make for two hours you will never forget and want to experience over and over again. Some really decent special features add some fun extra tidbits although I do believe a bit more time and effort could have been spent on them. But even those the special features may not be the deluxe edition result doesn’t mean that Black Snake Moan shouldn’t be the next purchase you make. And if you don’t, I may just end up on your front porch with a long chain cuz as Jesus said, “Im’ma suffer you! Now get your ass back in my house!”

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Black Snake Moan
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

10
THE EXTRAS

6
REPLAY VALUE

7
OVERALL
8.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)