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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.