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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

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.