Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Eve's Bayou

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Eve's Bayou

Article excerpt

I almost skipped Eve's Bayou (Trimark) because early reviewers kept saying "Southern Gothic" and mentioning Tennessee Williams. I would have missed the highly original debut film of a young African-American woman director, Kasi Lemmons. The story, set in Louisiana Creole country, is told as a long flashback in which Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett) reflects on her late-1950s childhood. The summer when she turned 10, she says, was the one when "she killed her father."

If "Eve's Bayou" has soap opera elements, the director also has a sense of poetry, and her use of the Delta countryside, with its huge moss-filled trees, stagnant pools of water, and handsome houses, is wonderfully suggestive. The atmosphere is established at the outset with a raucous party thrown by Eve's middle-class parents, Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) and Roz (Lynn Whitfield). Her father, an admired local doctor, takes an energetic part in the dancing, while her beautiful mother seems surprisingly withdrawn. Eve wanders into a nearby carriage house and falls asleep, only to cry out when she hears her father kissing another woman. Louis soothes Eve, professing love for his wife. Rivalry between Eve and her 14-year-old sister, Cisely (Megan Good), seems an equally pressing concern when Eve asks her father, "Why don't you ever dance with me?"

Louis' sister Mozelle (Debbi Morgan) stays with the family after her husband's death in a car accident. She thinks of herself as cursed because she had lost two previous husbands. …

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