Eve's Bayou is a 1997 American southern gothic drama film written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, who made her directorial debut with this film. Samuel L. Jackson served as a producer, and starred in the film with Lisa Nicole Carson, Jurnee Smollett, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Meagan Good and Diahann Carroll.
|Directed by||Kasi Lemmons|
|Written by||Kasi Lemmons|
|Produced by||Caldecot Chubb|
Samuel L. Jackson
|Edited by||Terilyn A. Shropshire|
|Music by||Terence Blanchard|
|Distributed by||Trimark Pictures|
Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), a 10-year-old girl, lives in a prosperous Creole-American community in Louisiana with her younger brother Poe (Jake Smollett) and her older sister Cisely (Meagan Good) in the 1960s. Their parents are Roz (Lynn Whitfield) and Louis (Samuel L. Jackson), a well-respected doctor in Louisiana's "colored" community who claims descent from the French aristocrat who founded the town of Eve's Bayou. One night after a raucous party, Eve accidentally witnesses her father having sex with Matty Mereaux (Lisa Nicole Carson), a family friend. However, Cisely, who has a very affectionate relationship with her father, convinces Eve that she misinterpreted an innocent moment. The unreliability of memory and observation remain important themes throughout the film.
The summer quickly becomes a chaotic and stressful one for the Batiste family. Eve's relationship with her parents becomes more strained as she discovers more evidence of her father's serial infidelity. Cisely comes into conflict with both her sister and mother as she enters puberty and tries to navigate the difficult transition to adulthood, particularly with regard to her appearance and sexuality. Roz eventually begins to suspect her husband's infidelity, prompting conflict between the two as well.
Throughout the duration of the film, Eve often seeks refuge with her Aunt Mozelle (Debbi Morgan) who works as a Hoodoo Practitioner with a neighborhood reputation as "The Black Widow". Eve, who also has the Spiritual gift of sight, has a premonitory dream shortly before an accident occurs, claiming Mozelle's third husband.
Mozelle's gift also brings her into direct conflict with Elzora (Diahann Carroll), a fortune teller and possible witch with similar abilities. When asked for a reading by Roz, Elzora implies that an unexpected "solution" to her problem will arise, but to wait and look to her children in the meantime. When Mozelle, a Hoodoo Practitioner herself, grudgingly makes a similar request, Elzora forces her to look and address the truth she refuses to see. Meanwhile, Eve, frustrated by her father's infidelity, begins to act out, bringing her into conflict with the other members of her family. Cisely begins to behave strangely as well, isolating herself from the family after experiencing her first period.
Cisely later confides in Eve the secret behind her strange mood. She tells her that one night, after their parents had a vicious argument, Cisely went to comfort her father and he, while drunk, attempted to molest her. Enraged, Eve seeks out Elzora to commission a voodoo spell to put a fatal curse on her father. While on her way to visit the witch, Eve runs into Lenny Mereaux (Roger Guenveur Smith) and questions him about his teaching job that keeps him away from home. In the conversation, she alludes to a possible tryst between his wife, Matty, and her father.
When Eve finally arrives to Elzora's home, she finds her to be not as scary as she expected but rather normal instead. While her expectation is to receive a voodoo doll of her father, she is simply told that the curse has been placed per her request. With regrets and in an attempt to save her father, Eve rushes to bring him home after finding him in a bar chatting with Matty Mereaux. At the same time, a drunken Lenny arrives to take Matty home. After a confrontation, Lenny and Matty leave the bar, and Lenny tells Louis that he will kill him if he talks to Matty again. After Louis says goodbye to Matty, Lenny shoots and kills Louis.
After her father's funeral, Eve soon finds a letter which her father wrote to Mozelle, disputing the accusations. In it, he claims that Cisely had come to him that night and kissed him, first as a daughter and then as a lover. In his drunken state, he reacted violently, slapping her and pushing her to the ground, which made her angry with him. Eve confronts Cisely and uses her second sight to discover what really happened. It ends with the sisters holding hands, gazing at the sunset.
- Jurnee Smollett as Eve Batiste
- Tamara Tunie as adult Eve (voice)
- Debbi Morgan as Mozelle Batiste Delacroix
- Samuel L. Jackson as Louis Batiste
- Lynn Whitfield as Roz Batiste
- Diahann Carroll as Elzora
- Lisa Nicole Carson as Matty Mereaux
- Meagan Good as Cisely Batiste
- Roger Guenveur Smith as Lenny Mereaux
- Vondie Curtis-Hall as Julian Grayraven
- Branford Marsalis as Harry
- Carol Sutton as Madame Renard
- Ethel Ayler as Gran Mere
- Jake Smollett as Poe Batiste
- Victoria Rowell as Stevie Hobbs
The film received positive reviews, with Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert naming it the best film of 1997. CNN's Paul Tatara, Empire, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Observer, The New York Times, TIME, Variety, and The Washington Post also loudly praised the film and its performances.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 82% based on 55 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Eve's Bayou marks a striking feature debut for director Kasi Lemmons, layering terrific performances and Southern mysticism into a measured meditation on disillusionment and forgiveness." The film did receive many accolades. Debbi Morgan's performance would be her most honored film role, with four nominations and two wins. The film is also noted for Jurnee Smollett's performance; up to this point, she had worked primarily as a TV actress, with Jack as her only previous film.
- Best Child Performance – Jurnee Smollett (winner)
- Best Supporting Actress – Debbi Morgan (winner)
- Outstanding Directorial Debut – Kasi Lemmons (winner)
- Best Supporting Actress – Jurnee Smollett (winner)
- Best Actor – Samuel L. Jackson (winner)
- Best Director – Kasi Lemmons (winner)
- Best Film (winner)
- Best Soundtrack (nominated)
- Best First Feature – Caldecot Chubb, Kasi Lemmons, Samuel L. Jackson (winner)
- Best Supporting Female – Debbi Morgan (winner)
- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Picture – Samuel L. Jackson (nominated)
- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture – Lynn Whitfield (nominated)
- Outstanding Motion Picture (nominated)
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Vondie Curtis-Hall (nominated)
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture – Debbi Morgan (nominated)
- Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress – Jurnee Smollett (nominated)
- Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress – Meagan Good (nominated)
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Drama) – Samuel L. Jackson (nominated)
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Drama) – Debbi Morgan (nominated)
- Outstanding Cinematography – Amy Vincent (nominated)
- Best Performance in a Feature Film (Leading Young Actress) – Jurnee Smollett (nominated)
- Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama Film – Jurnee Smollett (nominated)
- Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama Film – Meagan Good (nominated)
- Jackson, Samuel L. (January 22, 1998). "Samuel L. Jackson — Charlie Rose (quote at 10:54)" (Interview). Interviewed by Charlie Rose. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
I was a big enough name to get three million dollars to get it made. And that's what we made it for. Three million dollars? Three million dollars, yeah.
- "Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. December 12, 1997. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- Itzkoff, Dave (December 12, 2018). "'Jurassic Park,' 'The Shining' and 'Cinderella' Among Movies Chosen for National Film Registry". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- "National Film Registry Turns 30". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- on YouTube Retrieved April 5, 2013.
- "Eve's Bayou, rogerebert.com". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. November 7, 1997. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "Paul Tatara's review". CNN. November 11, 1997. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "Empire review". Empire. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- Lisa Schwarzbaum (November 7, 1997). "Entertainment Weekly review". Ew.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- Lim, Dennis. "Los Angeles Times review". Calendarlive.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- Sarris, Andrew. "New York Observer review". Observer.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- Holden, Stephen (November 7, 1997). "New York Times review". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- RICHARD CORLISS Monday, Oct. 13, 1997 (October 13, 1997). "TIME review". Time. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2011.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Levy, Emanuel (September 13, 1997). "Variety review". Variety. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "Eve's Bayou Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
- Debbi Morgan – Awards
- Corliss, Richard (February 4, 2008). "Eve's Bayou (1997) – The 25 Most Important Films on Race". TIME. Archived from the original on February 10, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "100 Essential Female Film Performances". Popmatters.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- "25 Best Roles for Black Actresses". Essence. Retrieved February 21, 2013.