Eve's Bayou

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Eve's Bayou
EvesBayou.jpg
VHS cover
Directed by Kasi Lemmons
Produced by Caldecot Chubb
Samuel L. Jackson
Mark Amin
Nick Wechsler
Written by Kasi Lemmons
Starring Jurnee Smollett
Debbi Morgan
Samuel L. Jackson
Lynn Whitfield
Meagan Good
Music by Terence Blanchard
Cinematography Amy Vincent
Edited by Terilyn A. Shropshire
Production
  company
ChubbCo Film
Addis-Wechsler
Distributed by Trimark Pictures
Release date(s) November 7, 1997
Running time 109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $14,842,388[1]

Eve's Bayou is a 1997 American drama film written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, who made her directorial debut with this feature. Samuel L. Jackson served as a producer and starred in the film alongside Debbi Morgan, Jurnee Smollett, Lynn Whitfield and Meagan Good.

Plot[edit]

Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), a ten year old girl, lives in a prosperous African American community in Louisiana with her younger brother Poe (Jake Smollett) and her older sister Cisely (Meagan Good), a pretty girl who is just entering puberty. Their parents are Roz (Lynn Whitfield) and Louis (Samuel L. Jackson), a well respected doctor in Louisiana's "colored" community who claims descent from the French aristocrat who founded the town of Eve's bayou. One night after a raucous party, Eve accidentally witnesses her father having sex with family friend Matty Mereaux (Lisa Nicole Carson). However, Cisely, who has a very affectionate relationship with her father, convinces Eve that she misinterpreted an innocent moment. The unreliability of memory and observation remain important themes throughout the film.

The summer quickly becomes a chaotic and stressful one for the Batiste family. Eve's relationship with her parents becomes more strained as she discovers more evidence of her father's serial infidelity. Cisely comes into conflict with both her sister and mother as she enters puberty and tries to navigate the difficult transition to adulthood, particularly with regards to her appearance and sexuality. Roz eventually begins to suspect her husband's infidelity, prompting conflict between the two as well.

During the chaotic summer, Eve often seeks refuge with her aunt Mozelle Batiste (Debbi Morgan) who works as a fortune teller and who has had a string of lovers who all died violently. After Eve has a confusing vision of something terrible happening, Mozelle informs her that the gift of second sight runs in their family. Meanwhile, Eve, angered by her father's infidelity, begins to tease Matty Mereaux's husband Lenny (Roger Guenveur Smith) with her knowledge about it.

One day Cisely confides in Eve the secret of why she's been so moody. One night, after their parents had a vicious argument, Cisely went to comfort her father and he, drunk, attempted to molest her. Enraged Eve seeks out a local witch, Elzora (Diahann Carroll), and commissions a voodoo spell to put a fatal curse on her father.

Eve is under the impression that she is going to receive a voodoo doll of her father. When returning to the witch to get her doll she is informed that there is no doll and that a curse has been placed on her father. In an attempt to save him Eve rushes to bring her father home, finding him in a bar chatting with Matty Mereaux. At the same time, a drunken Lenny arrives to take Matty home. After a confrontation Lenny and Matty leave the bar, and Lenny tells Louis that if he talks to Mattie again he will kill him. After Louis says bye to Mattie, Lenny shoots and kills Louis . After her father's funeral, Eve soon finds a letter which her father wrote to Mozelle, disputing the accusations. In it he claims that Cisely had come to him that night and kissed him, first as a daughter and then as a lover. In his drunken state he reacted violently, slapping her and pushing her to the ground, which made her angry with him. Eve confronts Cisely and uses her second sight to try and discover what really happened. It ends with the sisters holding hands, gazing at the sunset.

Cast[edit]

Reception and impact[edit]

The film received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert naming it the best film of 1997.[2][3] CNN's Paul Tatara,[4] Empire,[5] Entertainment Weekly,[6] The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times,[7] The New York Observer,[8] The New York Times,[9] TIME,[10] Variety,[11] and The Washington Post also loudly praised the film and its performances.

Eve's Bayou received a "fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, reporting that 80% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 50 reviews.[12] Though not nominated for any Academy Awards, the film did receive many accolades. Debbi Morgan's performance would be her most honored film role, with four nominations and two wins.[13] The film is also noted for Jurnee Smollett's performance; up to this point, she had worked primarily as a TV actress, with Jack being her only previous film.

In February 2008, Eve's Bayou made TIME's list of The 25 Most Important Films on Race.[14]

On February 16, 2009, Debbi Morgan's portrayal of Mozelle Batiste Delacroix was included in Pop Matters' 100 Essential Female Film Performances list.[15]

In 2012 Jurnee Smollett's role as Eve Batiste was included in Essence Magazine's 25 Best Roles for Black Actresses list.[16]

Accolades[edit]

1997 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

1997 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

1997 National Board of Review Awards

1997 San Diego Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress – Jurnee Smollett (winner)

1998 Acapulco Black Film Festival

  • Best Actor – Samuel L. Jackson (winner)
  • Best Director – Kasi Lemmons (winner)
  • Best Film (winner)
  • Best Soundtrack (nominated)

1998 Independent Spirit Awards

  • Best First Feature – Caldecot Chubb, Kasi Lemmons, Samuel L. Jackson (winner)
  • Best Supporting Female – Debbi Morgan (winner)

1998 NAACP Image Awards

  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Picture – Samuel L. Jackson (nominated)
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture – Lynn Whitfield (nominated)
  • Outstanding Motion Picture (nominated)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Vondie Curtis-Hall (nominated)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture – Debbi Morgan (nominated)
  • Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress – Jurnee Smollett (nominated)
  • Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress – Meagan Good (nominated)

1998 Satellite Awards

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Drama) – Samuel L. Jackson (nominated)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Drama) – Debbi Morgan (nominated)
  • Outstanding Cinematography – Amy Vincent (nominated)

1998 Young Artist Awards

  • Best Performance in a Feature Film (Leading Young Actress) – Jurnee Smollett (nominated)

1998 YoungStar Awards

  • Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama Film – Jurnee Smollett (nominated)
  • Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama Film – Meagan Good (nominated)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. 1997-12-12. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  2. ^ Siskel and Ebert At The Movies: Best Movies of 1997 on YouTube Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  3. ^ "Eve's Bayou, rogerebert.com". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ "''Paul Tatara's review''". CNN. November 11, 1997. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ "''Empire review''". Empire. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum (November 7, 1997). "''Entertainment Weekly review''". Ew.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ Lim, Dennis. "''Los Angeles Times review''". Calendarlive.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  8. ^ Sarris, Andrew. "''New York Observer review''". Observer.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  9. ^ Holden, Stephen (November 7, 1997). "''New York Times review''". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  10. ^ By RICHARD CORLISS Monday, Oct. 13, 1997 (October 13, 1997). "''TIME review''". Time. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  11. ^ Levy, Emanuel (September 13, 1997). "''Variety review''". Variety. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Eve's Bayou Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  13. ^ Debbi Morgan – Awards
  14. ^ Corliss, Richard (February 4, 2008). "Eve's Bayou (1997) – The 25 Most Important Films on Race". TIME. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  15. ^ "''100 Essential Female Film Performances''". Popmatters.com. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  16. ^ "25 Best Roles for Black Actresses". Essence. Retrieved February 21, 2013. 

External links[edit]