(2006) dir. Craig Brewer
I don’t know why, but I kept wanting to see this film, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be very good. I’ve always like Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson is usually entertaining, but it didn’t get that good of reviews. Writer/director Craig Brewer, who made his name with his earlier effort, Hustle & Flow (2005), comes up with an idea that is titilating, but ultimately lacks believability, though it still has a bit of a kick to it.
Let’s put the plot this way: it’s about an African American small town farmer/blues musician who stumbles on the beaten and half-dead scantily-clad body of Christina Ricci and decides to help cure her of her ills (she’s got a chest infection and nymphomania) by chaining her to his radiator. I kept wishing that this film had been made by Russ Meyers or John Waters.
Ricci is actually not too bad in the film as the abused town slut, whose boyfriend, Justin Timberlake, heads off for the military, but can’t hack it because of his anxiety and weak stomach. Jackson is okay, but the good-hearted spirituality and kindness of characters from opposite sides of town culture healing each other…it’s kinda lame.
Still, Ricci in a half-cut t-shirt and undies only, chained to the radiator with a big loop and lock around her middle is sort of the thing that makes this amusing. It’s would-be exploitation, toying with the shocking, but really not being shocking. And the blues. We get the blues, too. The healing power of the blues.
Ricci spends a lot of time half-nude or semi-nude. She started out as a child actress and as she reached her early adulthood was appreciated for her curves. She’s a small woman. But then she went through some eating disorders and became rail-thin. Here, her body is on total display. Definitely very skinny. Her body, her dress (or lack thereof) is one of the big points of the story. She is the slut, defined by her wardrobe and hair. There is something here to be said about body issues, but I don’t know exactly what. She’s a skinny little thing.
Like I said, this might have worked as exploitation. For it to work dramatically, it would need a better script and better direction. It’s pretty lame in that respect.