Eve's Bayou

"Essential"

Eve's Bayou Review


"Memory is a selection of images, some elusive, others printed indelibly on the brain. The summer I killed my father, I was ten years old." This shocking opening line not only sets the tone but starts the galloping pace of the psychological thriller Eve's Bayou. It is the kind of line taught in writing school, a line that can sustain an entire story with its cool malice.

Eve's Bayou is a film shocking in methods and motives.

In methods, it creates a movie that has bone-chilling characters, moments at which you jump, and yet has characters that make you emotional putty in writer-director Kasi Lemmons' hands. In effortlessly sidesteps cliches involving taboo subjects such as incest.

In motives, Eve's Bayou is one of those rare movies that has characters about whom you can care... no matter what they have done or profess to do. Going far beyond just a tiny bit of moral ambiguity, all of the residents of Eve's Bayou live in a realm of gray. It makes you realize perfectly that life can at the same time be utterly chilling and incredibly dramatic.

The story of Eve's Bayou deals with the descendents of a slave named Eve and Jean-Paul Batiste, who inhabit an incredibly nice home on the Louisiana bayou. The Batiste family is a powder keg waiting to explode. It has a philandering father (Samuel L. Jackson), a psychic aunt (Debbi Morgan), and three children under fifteen. The mother is overprotective and knows of her husbands infidelities. The aunt is cursed that each man she marries will die.

After a party, Eve Batiste (the middle child, who voices the opening line as an adult) catches her father with a local flirt named Mattie Mereaux (Lisa Nicole Carson). To a 10 year old, this is a destroying moment. Her innocence is shattered in that very moment. She begins to become curious about what other secrets lie in the bayou, swimming on the surface of the water like snakes ready to strike.

Curiosity killed the cat, but it is not Eve who suffers for it. Instead, it eventually is her father. How this comes about you will have to watch the movie yourself to discover.

The greatness of this film comes in its ability to be almost all things at once. Encompassed inside its borders are tinges of comedy, doses of drama, and an abundance of thrills. Like Eyes Wide Shut, its thrills come from the intellectual level. They are not, in any way, shape, or form, visceral. As the mystery unravels itself, you are drawn more and more into the characters and the temperature of the room seems to continually decrease.

Needless to say, this is not your everyday expectation for a thriller.

Kasi Lemmons, a first time director, handles everything on her set with an adept hand. Although my pick still would go with Atom Egoyan for The Sweet Hereafter for Best Director in 1997, Lemmons was passed over for a nomination. Jurnee Smollett, playing 10-year-old Eve, acts as if she were born and raised in front of the camera. Her facial expressions are perfectly under control, the timbre of her voice hers to command. Not since Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver have I seen a child do so well in such an ambiguous role.

The one major disappointment in Eve's Bayou comes in the form of Samuel L. Jackson, who looks a little too happy-go-lucky for the part. His smile is a little to wide, his eyes a little too bright. Despite the fact that he spends half the movie screwing women other than his wife its hard to really hate him. Then again, perhaps that is the way the director wanted it.

A film is a selection of images, some elusive, others printed indelibly upon the brain. Eve's Bayou will never leave once it is there.



Eve's Bayou

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th November 1997

Distributed by: Lions Gate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson as Louis Batiste, as Roz Batiste, as Roz Batiste, as Roz Batiste, Lisa Nicole Carson as Matty Mereaux, as Elzora, as Lenny Mereaux, as Mozelle Batiste Delacroix, as Stevie Hobbs

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Advertisement
Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.