This original movie is about restraint(s), love, forgiveness, and redemption. Or lack thereof. In this film, Christina Ricci’s Rae is the queen screw up who loves to, well, screw. Rae and Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) are in love, but Ronnie wants to honor his country by joining the guard before they start their life together. To keep them in each other thoughts, Ronnie bought them matching watches and synced the alarms so that they would have a connection no matter where they were. Once he leaves, Rae flips out and does everything and everyone in sight in an attempt to cope with her loss and the nightmare flashes she has from her past. By the end of Ronnie’s first night away, we have seen Rae been drunk, self-drugged, Rae has been beaten up and left for dead on a backcountry road in her underwear, the beeping of her watch going off in the dark woods.
But this is not the end of Ronnie and Rae. Enter Lazarus, the man who was brought back from the dead in the Bible, who is fresh off a one-night bender after being left by his wife Rose (for his brother) finds Rae in front of his farm. She’s half naked and bloody but alive and coughing, so he takes her in and sets out to heal her. Samuel L. Jackson plays Lazarus, and I?m not sure there is another actor who could pull this role off more successful than he does here. We see Lazarus praying with his pastor (John Cothran) before being left by his wife in a diner, drunkenly ridding his house of her things, restraining himself from killing his own brother, and, in a cleansing scene he drives his tractor through Rose’s roses. Only Jackson could calmly plow under a rose garden and still be redeemable, or even looked at as the only truly good character in the film. He has the fear of the Lord in him, and pretty much thinks Rae was placed into his path for a good reason – whatever it may be.
The chain. If you’ve seen a preview for this movie, you?ve seen that Ricci ends up chained to a radiator. If a woman is chained to anything in a movie, she is usually being held prisoner. However, that is only half the case here. Lazarus chains up Rae because she is sick and having fever dreams. To make sure she doesn’t wander off into the woods he chains her up. Once she wakes up, however, Lazarus uses the chains to help her get over her other fever; the one that gives her fits that make her crave sex. These fits show Rae writhing and twitching on the ground, and twisting her body around the chains, radiator, and herself in any attempt to appease her body. Any man who gets in her way gets it, no matter who he is. Any man except Lazarus.
Had the writers and producers of this movie allowed Lazarus to succumb to Rae, the move would be half a star. Lazarus? virtue balances out Rae’s devilish ways, and he proves he is a soldier of God by not giving in to his desires. Instead, Lazarus goes to his main source of sin: the blues guitar. The guitar here is wholly another character. Lazarus plays to calm him and Rae down, and they take their strength from it. The title of the movie itself is taken from Blind Lemon Jefferson’s 1927 song, That Black Snake Moan. The blues comes alive here, and is played out with the main characters.
At the end of the movie, there is redemption for Rae. Ronnie comes back from the military very early and they get to start their life, after acknowledging that they are just not normal. Ronnie and Rae have some issues, but they aren’t going to let that get in the way of their love. And Lazarus finds a new beginning in the cleaning of his wife from his life, and the gained trust and potential love of a softer, gentler woman. Just what every blues man wants.
This movie is like nothing you will have ever seen. It is an adult movie however, as there are some images here that some youth shouldn’t see just yet.
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