Chains of Lust: “Black Snake Moan” Reviewed

Christina Ricci in Black Snake Moan & Pumpkin

Christina Ricci, sporting dirty-blonde tangles, is a skanky, foul-mouthed nympho who’s left for dead on a country road after a particularly ill-advised night of partying. She’s found by Samuel L. Jackson’s aging bluesman who takes her in and chains her to his radiator with the intention of casting the devil out of her…or something. She warms to his intentions and what follows is an implausible but entertaining slice of gritty southern gothic pulp. Viewed as a fable, the movie works. Ricci’s performance is probably her best to date and Jackson gives it his all per usual. The sharp-eyed Gill Man noticed Kim Richards (Escape from Witch Mountain), who hasn’t worked since 1990, as Ricci’s good-fer-nuthin momma. The sweetly satisfying ending surprised me as did Justin Timberlake’s exceptional perf as Ricci’s long-suffering boyfriend. Extra points for Ricci’s ability to really work the sexy skank look…and her multiple topless scenes. (Hubba!) The Gill Man is a fan.
*** – Gill Man Recommended

Also worth mentioning here:
PUMPKIN (2002)
Unfairly over-looked, this winking parody of disease-of-the-week movies and TV specials is damn funny and seriously misunderstood. Christina Ricci is a sorority girl whose house volunteers with a Special Olympics-style organization. Each sister is assigned a handicapped kid and Ricci gets Pumpkin. She falls in love with him and learns through Pumpkin that there is pain in the world. (She was previously unaware.) Pumpkin’s affliction is never named which is just one of the jokes that no one seemed to get. The premise is that most pop culture treats the handicapped as if they’re here to teach the rest of us important life lessons. Ricci’s character fucks Pumpkin (o.s.) and is disowned by her sorority and rejected by her tennis pro boyfriend (a great character, incidentally). Balancing parody and a straight-faced narrative is a tall order and at times it seems like Pumpkin is trying to do too much. It flies off the rails in the last half hour – but I still think it mostly works and that the rest of the world is crazy.
*** – Gill Man Recommended

~ by Number5ive on March 16, 2007.

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