Black Snake Moan


by Tuna

Once in a great while, someone makes a film specifically for me. Oddly, the film makers don't even know they are doing it. Give  me Samuel L. Jackson, an amazing blues score, and a brilliant performance by a sometimes naked and continuously underdressed Christina Ricci, and I am happy.

Samuel plays a truck farmer and former blues man whose wife has just left him for his brother. His support group is a church, but as a drunk and all-around character, it is an uneasy fit for him. Christina Ricci was abused as a youngster, and turned into the high school slut. She has a relationship with Justin Timberlake. He is subject to constant panic attacks, which she is somehow able to ease. Whenever he is not around, she becomes a nymphomaniac. Timberlake is off to join the Army, and she is off screwing anything in pants.

Timberlake's best friend beats Christina and dumps her in the middle of a road, right next to Sam Jackson's place. She is unconscious, and suffering from a fever and serious cough. Samuel L. decides to heal her, but not just her immediate medical problems. To make sure she stays around for his healing, he chains her to a radiator. Ricci and Jackson both eventually find redemption, but not in expected ways. The two have no sexual tension between them, much less sexual contact. Yes, she initially tries to bargain her body for freedom, but when that doesn't work, she is forced to live in her own head for a while.

Samuel L. learned guitar for this film, and was able to actually play all his tunes in this film, even though the sound track has prerecorded versions. As a guitarist, I can confirm that Jackson was fingering the guitar correctly. This is the second time I have fallen in love with a Samuel L. film that did not do well (the first was The Caveman's Valentine). In this case, I am afraid the public couldn't get past the idea of an old ornery black man chaining a young half naked white woman to the radiator of his house. With brilliant performances from Samuel and Christina Ricci, an amazing blues score, great cinematography, and insightful looks at racial, age, gender, and social position issues, what is not to like? In reading the first several comments at IMDb, it seems to me that everyone who has actually seen this film has loved it. I have ordered the sound track, and will watch the film again and again. If you have an open mind, watch it. If you also love the blues, buy it.

comments by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Scoop's note: I agree with Tuna's analysis and have no problem seconding the B-. I don't know if it should have been a hit, but dammit, it should at least have been a small success. The film was mis-marketed as an exploitation film (white girl chained to radiator in black man's house), when it should have been presented as the thoughtful and compassionate drama that it is, albeit one with a very steamy, almost naked Christina Ricci smack dab in the middle of it. Since that is an odd combination, the film might still have bombed, but it could have bombed honestly. As Tuna notes, most people who have seen it seem to have liked it.

Props to Ricci for a good job in a role with significant psychological and physical challenges.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


A film appreciated by many critics and many viewers. We think it could have been a financial success if marketed properly.


  • Christina Ricci spent much of the movie in underpants and a tiny top which barely covered her breasts. She showed her breasts in several scenes, and her bum in one deleted scene.



It was nominated for an Oscar for cinematography.

3.5 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
3 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
66 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
52 (of 100)




Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at $15 million for production. It did only nine million at the box office, in 1200 theaters.





7.0 IMDB top 1000 voters (of 10)





The Regular DVD has

* a widescreen anamorphic transfer

* a full-length commentary by the director

* three featurettes

* and a few deleted scenes.