The Gospel, Chained to a Radiator

Ever wanted to watch a movie about a nymphomaniac chained to a radiator? Ever wanted to feel good about it? Black Snake Moan is for you. Craig Brewer, the man behind Hustle & Flow, brings us the story of Rae and Lazarus, the nymphomaniac and the owner of the radiator, respectively. Played by Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson, Rae and Lazarus begin their relationship when Lazarus finds Rae lying by the side of the road, raped and beaten. He nurses her back to health, but when he discovers her compulsions, he chains her to the radiator, to "cure [her] of [her] wicked ways." The movie goes as movies do, and they develop a close relationship, closer certainly that that of Rae and her mother, who stood by while Rae was sexually abused as a child.

This movie is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for the profanity-averse. But it is pure Gospel, through and through. Rae's chain does nothing but drive her wild, even pushing her so far as to attack a pre-pubescent boy. Like Martin Luther's caged lion (who only rages against the cage), when Lazarus frees Rae from her bondage (saying, "You an adult. You should live however you want to."), Rae is domesticated to the point of cooking dinner for Lazarus, the young boy she attacked, and the local pastor!

To explain Luther's lion a little bit: Martin Luther compared the action of the Law (judgment and critique) to chains restraining a lion. We believe that if we unchain the lion, it will devour us. After all, it is roaring and struggling against its chains! What we miss is that the lion is only struggling because it is chained! Released, it no longer has reason to rage. In the same way, when the weight of the law is removed, people don't react with wild sin, as we might expect...they relax in their new freedom.

Given the freedom to run, Rae stays by the side of the man who loved her when no one else would.

There's a great Justin Timberlake sub-plot, as well. JT is looking to become the next Mark Wahlberg (singer turned talented actor), and this is a step in the right direction for him. Everyone tries this move, but with the exception of these two and Andre Benjamin (of Outkast and Four Brothers), most fail, rather spectacularly. Eminem was another notable exception. In any event, Timberlake's Ronny is in love with Rae, and she is in love with him. Rae realizes that "we're [expletive] up. I know I am. But that don't mean what I feel ain't real, that I can't love somebody. And I know what I done is real real bad, but um... So if you want to quit on me I understand. But please don't."

It is in their pain and suffering that Rae and Ronny find the love for each other that they need to carry on. Lazarus' first instinct is to impose the law on Rae, to cure her of her wicked ways. When that only serves to make her rebel more wildly, he gives her Gospel. He frees her from her chains, and she can love again. And, loved, Ronny can love the girl who loves him, even though he has every reason to abandon her.

1 comment:

  1. Great opening line Nick and a good post. I've been curious to see this movie ever since it came out, maybe I'll give it a try.

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