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Copyright 1999-2001 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.

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Cassandra Henry's review of
Eve's Bayou
3BC

Bayou

Eve's Bayou (1997)
Written and Directed by:
Kasi Lemmons
Cast:
Samuel L. Jackson: Dr. Louis Batiste
Lynn Whitfield: Roz Batiste
Debbi Morgan: Mozelle Batiste Delacroix
Jurnee Smollett: Eve Batiste
Meagan Good: Cisely Batiste
Jake Smollett: Poe Batiste
Diahann Carroll: Elzora
Lisa Nicole Carson: Matty Mereaux
Roger Guenveur Smith: Lenny Mereaux
Vondie Curtis-Hall: Julian Grayraven
Ethel Ayler: Gran Mere
Branford Marsalis: Harry
Carol Sutton: Madame Renard

Review Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2001


(click here to skip to this movie's rating)


WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW.

A FEW DEFINITIONS to keep in mind while watching Eve's Bayou [American Heritage College Dictionary (3rd ed.)]:

  • bayou: 2. A sluggish stream that [meanders] through lowlands, marshes, or plantation grounds. [Louisiana].
  • clairvoyance: (n) - 1. The supposed power to see what cannot be perceived by the senses. 2. Acute intuitive insight or perceptiveness.
  • Creole: (n) - 4. A person of mixed Black and European ancestry who speaks a creolized language, esp. one based on French or Spanish.
  • psychic: (n) - 2.a. Capable of extraordinary mental processes, such as mental telepathy.
  • voodoo: (n) - 3.(v) to place under the influence of a spell or curse; bewitch.


Da Plot and Subplots:
The Batiste Family Tree: Son/brother/husband/father/doctor/adulterer Dr. Louis Batiste (Samuel L. Jackson); Wife/mother Roz Batiste (Lynn Whitfield); Children: 14-year old Cisely Batiste (Meagan Good), 10-year old Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), and 8 or 9-year old Poe Batiste (Jake Smollett); Louis' sister: Mozelle Batiste Delacroix (Debbi Morgan), and his mother, Gran Mere (Ethel Ayler).

I've seen Eve's Bayou numerous times since it was first released in November 1997. Kasi Lemmons wrote the screenplay, and Eve's Bayou was her directorial debut. The movie is narrated through the eyes of Eve Batiste, who reminisces about the summer of 1962 and the secrets of her family, which are finally dredged up from the Louisiana bayous.

If a writer has written an outstanding opening line or phrase [which I call "da hook"], then they have grabbed my curiosity. [Paraphrasing] "I was ten years old when I killed my father" - was da hook that piqued my interest, and I was immediately drawn into finding out how and why 10-year old Eve killed her father.

In the opening scene we are invited to a summer party at the beautiful home of hosts Dr. Louis Batiste and Roz Batiste. We are greeted at the door with laughter by a few uppity Blacks and the provocative dancing of Matty Mereaux. Their children, 14-year old Cisely, 10-year old Eve, and 8 or 9-year old Poe, have stayed up way pass their bed time getting into grown folks business. During the party, Louis and Matty slip away to fool around, only to be caught red-handed by Eve. Louis tries to sweet talk Eve into believing that she didn't see what she saw. She's not convinced and confides her suspicions to her older sister, Cisely. Cisely, [daddy's favorite little princess], isn't blind to her father's womanizing ways, also tries to paint another picture for Eve to believe.

There are several subplots: (1) The marriage (or lack thereof) of Louis and Roz; (2) Their interaction with their children; (3) Cisely's over zealous affection for her father; (4) The rivalry between Cisely and Eve for their father's attention; (5) Mozelle's psychic premonitions and her belief that any man who falls in love with her will die because she is cursed (three already did); and (6) Eve's use of voodoo to kill her father for his nonchalant philandering conduct threatening to tear their family apart. These subplots are weaved into a twisted tale of deception and betrayal, and how family secrets must be unearthed so the living can go on living.


The Why Factors:

  • Why was 8 or 9-year old Poe Batiste's character necessary to the story?
  • Why were Cisely and Eve's characters so sassy? For the record, Black mothers don't take no back talk from their children, and would have backhanded these disrespecting little gurls straight to kingdom come.
  • Why did Mr. Mereaux try to sound "Cajun"? His forced interpretation of how we talk down 'n da bayou was too rehearsed and ruined the authenticity of the Creole dialect.



Cass Trivia:
I know a little something about southerners, Creoles and family secrets because I was born and raised in Mardi Grasville many, many Cajun moons ago. My father's mother's maiden name was LeBlanc/LeBlanche [translation - "the Whites"], and my mother's family's name is Batiste. Go figure.

Eve (Jurnee Smollett) and Poe (Jake Smollett) are brother and sister in real life.

Finally, I'd like to give a special SHOUT OUT to New Orleans native Carol Sutton (Madame Renard). In the 60's and 70's, my father took us to see live stage performances at Dashiki Theatre, which was one of New Orleans' Black neighborhood live theaters. My sister and I especially loved Ms. Sutton's performance in Dashiki Theatre's adaptation of Raisin In The Sun. You can be guaranteed that every time there's a movie shot in New Orleans, Carol Sutton will be included in the cast.


EVE'S BAYOU:

grn

I love it when a good story is captured through cinematography. If you add the strong performances of Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Meagan Good, Jurnee Smollett, Debbi Morgan and Diahann Carroll into a concoction of voodoo spells and hexes, Eve's Bayou makes for a good pot of gumbo.

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Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2001
EMAIL: cass@3blackchicks.com

Use the feedback form below to send your comments to Cass



More 3BlackChicks...™ review(s) for this week:
(movies released week of 3/9/01):
Cass' reviews:
Eve's Bayou

Bams' reviews:
15 Minutes | You Can Count On Me

The Diva's reviews:
15 Minutes


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