Black Snake Moan, the latest film from Craig Brewer is so silly, it’s difficult to review with a straight face. Full disclosure, I felt this way about the director’s first film, Hustle & Flow, so maybe I just don’t get it.

The movie, as it is, tells the story of Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson ripped from Pulp Fiction) as a black man compelled to kidnap a wanton white woman (a slut-ified Christina Ricci – why do actresses take these roles?) in order to save her soul. An updated Pygmalion tale, if you will.

Justin Timberlake – I just don’t get his allure – plays Ronnie, an anxious young man off to boot camp. Rae (Ricci), a nymphomaniac, cheats on him incessantly as a result of childhood abuse, and when Ronnie leaves, Rae falls apart completely.

She binges on everything vile until she winds up, almost dead, in the front yard of Lazarus. Naturally, after curing her fever, Lazarus decides to wrap an enormous metal chain around her naked waist and tether her to the radiator. Wouldn’t you?

Black Snake Moan might have had some potential as a 21st-century exploitation film (white-sploitation?) if it had any sense of humor or fun. Instead, the actors all seem to think they’re going for Oscar gold (maybe that’s not so crazy given “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp”). It’s all just sort of embarrassing for us and for them.

I can’t help thinking that Brewer is playing out some elaborate private joke on all the critics and people who heap praise on him. Between his two pictures, he salaciously combines race relations and overt sexual themes of bondage, prostitution and even slavery with African-American men holding the power over small, blonde women.

Maybe if Brewer himself were black, he would have something to say about race in America or misogyny in America. Instead, the director just presents an exercise in sensationalism.

Grade: F

Black Snake Moan is currently available.