If you manage to suspend belief about the realism of a man chaining a woman to his radiator to rid her of her ‘devils’ then you will enjoy this weird film. It is not as good a watch as director Craig Brewer’s first film, Hustle and Flow, but still above par.
Rae (Christina Ricci – Casper, Moster) is upset because her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake – Alpha Dogs, On the Line) is leaving to join the army. She is not sure she can make it without him. Anytime Rae is under any kind of stress or is even the slightest bit bored it seems as if she cannot control her sexuality and as a result has slept with most males in town behind Ronnie’s back. With him gone it doesn’t look good.
At a local watering hole one night shortly after Ronnie leaves, Rae drinks and drugs herself into a state. After having sex in football equipment (??) with a guy just outside the bar, Ronnie’s friend Gill (Michael Raymond-James – appeared in episodes of CSI and ER) decides to drive her home. After ridiculing him during his amorous advances in the truck on the way home, Gill loses it and beats on Rae. Panicking he dumps her body out on the road and leaves.
After stepping out on her husband with his own brother, Rose Woods (Adriane Lenox – appeared in episodes of Third Watch and Law & Order) tells her husband Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane) that she is leaving him. Lazarus is distraught and disillusioned to say the least. While bringing out his garbage the morning after tying one on he discovers an unconscious and bloody Rae in the middle of the road. Lazarus brings her back to his place and lets her sleep it off. While in town, he finds out from the local weed dealer that Rae is a promiscuous girl. Returning home he finds Rae has regained consciousness and is trying to leave. Lazarus decides that he is going to rid her of the devil that possesses her and so, he, using a 40-foot chain, chains her to his radiator. Let the healing begin.
Each of the two lead characters has their own demons and seems to find strength in the other when if comes to being able to change things. Actress Christina Ricci does an incredible job in a very risky role. She is practically naked throughout the whole film and emotionally messed up through all of it. A big player in the film is the score/music. Blues music is almost like another character in the film. The music really illustrates what each character is feeling during a scene.
The film is full of controversy and difficult scenes. Brewer does not shy away from race relations, sexuality, violence, child abuse, or religion in this film. He takes them on head on and brings his audience with him on this odd journey. There is a depth to the film without it hitting you over the head with it. Redemption and the ability to change are the big themes of the film. The rawness of it makes you almost feel as if you were there with the characters. Some of the behaviours of the different races and Southern folk really plays on the stereotypes and sometimes goes overboard, but it must have been hard for Brewer to know where to draw the line and still make his point. The film itself is full of tense moments, dark moments and even some humour. Throughout the whole weird voyage you definitely can’t wait to find out what is gonna happen next. One cannot claim that director Craig Brewer does not have a unique vision or directing style. He is one to watch!
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