Eve's Bayou

on November 07, 1997 by Ed Scheid
"Eve's Bayou" is a very promising writing/directorial debut for Kasi Lemmons, till now an actress ("Fear of a Black Hat"). Eve (Jurnee Smollett) is 10 years old and lives in a prosperous Black Creole family in Louisiana in the early '60s. Eve's father, Louis ("Pulp Fiction's" Samuel L. Jackson), is a popular and successful doctor. Eve begins to discover what is going on beneath the seemingly happy surface of her family life. She accidentally sees her charming father being unfaithful to her beautiful mother ("A Thin Line Between Love and Hate's" Lynn Whitfield). Her Aunt Mozelle (Debbi Morgan), whose three husbands have each died unexpectedly, predicts the future. As Eve discovers more family secrets, she believes that to save her family she must make a pact with a mysterious voodoo woman (Diahann Carroll).
   The ensemble, from Smollett and the young actors playing Eve's brother and sister to the veteran Carroll, is very impressive. The actors bring out the subtle and increasingly complicated relationships. Jackson (who also produced) is charismatic as the father Eve comes to believe is a source of family problems; Whitfield and Morgan are very affecting as Eve's unhappy mother and aunt. Vondie Curtis Hall (the director's husband, who helmed "Gridlock'd") plays Aunt Mozelle's latest lover, who is not afraid of the curse that Mozelle believes has tragically ended her three marriages.
   "Memory is a selection of images," Eve says. This also describes Lemmons' assured direction, which accumulates the daily details of growing in vibrant Louisiana as filtered through a child's perception. Lemmons skillfully shows the old superstitions that are mixed in with the family's modern lifestyle. Rather than being strong on plot, Lemmons' script is a series of episodic incidents that add to the fabric of Eve's story. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Jurnee Smollett and Diahann Carroll. Directed and written by Kasi Lemmons. Produced by Caldecott Chubb and Samuel L. Jackson. A Trimark release. Drama. Rated R for sexuality and language. Running time: 108 min. Screened at Telluride.
Tags: Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Jurnee Smollett, Diahann Carroll, written by Kasi Lemmons, Produced by Caldecott Chubb, A Trimark release, Drama, love, unhappy, family, impressive, charming

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