I didn’t know quite what to expect of Black Snake Moan, as everything I had read said it was a highly controversial movie, really daring, either racist or purposely evoking racist themes precisely to puncture them, erotic, shocking in its treatment of women, etc., etc.
Then I watched it, and frankly I thought it was boring, and mostly silly. I never really believed any of the characters, never much cared about them.
I had the sense that whatever grander points the filmmaker was trying to make so dominated his approach that the other things that make a movie compelling or believable or entertaining were compromised.
I didn’t find any of it particularly offensive. If anything the sex and violence is too cartoonish to take seriously enough to be offended by (or have a favorable reaction to, for that matter).
It has some potential for a while to be an interesting portrayal of the mental illness of the male lead, but that doesn’t really go anywhere. We see, in simplistic fashion, how the input, the messages he’s received, from an emotional sort of fundamentalist religion, racist and sexist attitudes in the air, and his personal experience of being wronged by his wife and best friend have come together in a perverse little stew and left him behaving in an erratic and sometimes insane manner. But then—with the help of some laughable pseudo-therapy sessions where various of the characters talk about their issues and emotions with each other and a helpful preacher—he pretty much “gets over it.” He decides to be a caring father figure toward the woman he’s been holding in bondage, and she sees that he’s a good guy at heart after all and just wants to help her, and everybody lives happily ever after.
Christina Ricci plays the slutty white trash girl in a thoroughly over-the-top manner, perhaps intentionally so if this isn’t supposed to be taken literally and is just a lot of shock and symbolism.
By the way, Ricci has always been an intriguing looking woman. She has a face that some see as unusually attractive in an unconventional way, and some see as unattractive because it’s so odd and unconventional. I think there are plenty of people in both camps, and some who go back and forth depending on the angle they see her and how she’s made up and such. (I’m more in the “find her attractive” camp, as I tend to be intrigued by women who are a little offbeat in appearance.)
I think as a grown-up she’s lost some of that odd look she had. She looks more like a regular attractive woman now. I’m sure her face still has its fans and its detractors (presumably she’ll get few if any complaints about the body, though it is on the thin side), but I would guess there are fewer sharp differences of opinion about it; she just doesn’t any longer look that much different from conventional women who are considered attractive.
Anyway, Black Snake Moan held my interest enough that I pretty much paid attention and followed the whole thing, but in the end it all seemed pretty silly to me.