Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble
Starring: Jurnee Smollett, Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Morgan / Director: Kasi Lemmons / Released by: Trimark Pictures
Set in a Louisiana Bayou, circa late 50's-early 60’s, the story which follows the Batiste household as told through the eyes of an irrepressible ten year old, Eve (Jurnee Smollett), begins with a party at the Batiste’s mansion, where her philandering father (Samuel L. Jackson) is seen dancing provocatively with Mrs. Mereaux (Lisa Nicole Carson). Later, Eve unwillingly witnesses her father’s steamy relationship with her and is completely devastated.
Eve reluctantly tells her sister, Cisely (Meagan Good) what she saw. Cisely, like her mother (Lynn Whitfield) tries to come to terms with his infidelity by pretending that everything is going to be all right.
Eve finds solace in her sorceress, Aunt Mozelle (Debbi Morgan), who not only comforts her but helps her to develop her 6th sense. Later, with the help of the town’s voodoo practitioner, Elzora (Diahann Carol), Eve discovers a solution to her problems.
“Eve’s Bayou” is an operatic melodrama that captivates the audience with an orchestra of rich thought. It wrestles with the issues of marriage and infidelity; childhood versus adulthood; memory versus reality; and of life itself. The director/writer, Kasi Lemmons (best known as Jodie Foster’s FBI roommate in “The Silence of the Lambs”), really has her hands full trying to keep the movie clean and yet deal with the undercurrent of sexuality that permeates practically every scene. While she does so quite aptly, there is one scene that contains brief nudity (you see the backside of a woman who is in the act of sex); and another which shows a man and a woman fully clothed, who are also intimately involved.
“Eve’s Bayou” illustriously demonstrates the pain and suffering that sin gives rise to. Jackson (“Pulp Fiction”, “A Time To Kill”) as the lust driven Dr. Batiste, shows how cold one can get when they live for today and think not for tomorrow. The rest of the cast reveal how each of us (and our sins) do affect the lives of those who are around us.
While “Eve’s Bayou” is a remarkable movie, it is full of the occult. Fortune-telling, voodoo, spiritualism, etc. are frequently and openly discussed. There is frequent use of the “F” word and the profanity is prolific. And, while Smollett stuns the audience with her ability to express the human emotion with such fervor and grace, this reviewer must caution the movie-goer about the impertinence of this movie’s theme.