Netflix Daily Pick: Finding Redemption in ‘Black Snake Moan’ (2006)

Today's pick is a gritty Southern thriller with two great performances.

Black Snake Moan is a 2006 drama about a God-fearing bluesman that takes to a wild young woman who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it.

Today’s Netflix pick is an unusual film that might best be described as an actor’s film with two outstanding performances from the two leads in a story that itself is certainly not typical. Controversial for it sexual themes, but not in the way you might be thinking, it tackles domestic abuse and sexual addiction and while it earned praise for its actors, also some harsh criticism from some groups who denounced what appears to be the glorification of sexualized violence. It is absolutely a polarizing film and sometimes hard to know how to wrap your head around it, but no matter how it makes you feel, it does at least do that, inspire emotions and hopefully conversation. That’s rare in a movie. It’s Black Snake Moan and it’s what you’re watching tonight. Here’s why.

THE STORY: Directed by Craig Brewer, the plot centers on Lazarus Redd (Samuel L. Jackson) a God-fearing man who is in kind of in a spin. His wife is having an affair … with his brother and you can bet it’s got him in a funk. Disillusioned with it all, angry at the world and feeling betrayed from all sides, he one day comes upon Rae Doole (Christina Ricci) laying half naked and beaten on the side of road.

Black Snake Moan
Black Snake Moan, 2006 © Paramount Classics

Her story isn’t much better. After her boyfriend (Justin Timberlake) gets deployed, she falls into sex addiction and drugs, crossing a young man who wants to take advantage of her. Not pleased with her dismissal, he beats her and leaves her to die. Redd takes her in and makes it his mission, by any means necessary, to correct her path. Including chains.

WHY YOU NEED TO WATCH: For fans of Jackson, this will be a far departure from his usual roles, despite his already pretty dense filmography that includes some rather eclectic characters. While many of his recent movies seem to be retreads of his bombastic style, he reaches some depths here not really met in other movies.

Black Snake Moan
Black Snake Moan, 2006 © Paramount Classics

Black Snake Moan is loaded with Blues music and a gritty, earthy tone to it that lends the film a hyper-realism. It’s a raw film and while Jackson is a standout, Ricci is fearless both physically and emotionally, baring it all in more ways than one. It’s a devastating performance. A dark film, it cuts deep and begs questions, ones that are well worth exploring. Streaming now on Netflix, don’t miss this thriller.