Eve’s Bayou is one of the most original and haunting moves created within The Culture. Released in 1997 its a southern gothic drama film written and directed by the talented African-American female creator, Kasi Lemmons, who made her directorial debut with this film. Samuel L. Jackson served as a producer (helping it make it into theaters), and starred in the film with Lisa Nicole Carson, Jurnee Smollett, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Meagan Good and Diahann Carroll.
The film was an indie revelation in the 1990s. It tells a Louisiana-set eerie tale about a 10-year-old girl who, during a 1962 summer, discovers the dark truths that lurk underneath the dignified veneer of her family.
Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), a 10-year-old girl, lives in a prosperous Creole-American community in Louisiana with her younger brother Poe (Jake Smollett/Jurnee’s real life brother) and her older sister Cisely (Meagan Good) in the 1960s. 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 a family friend Mozelle (Debbi Morgan). 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. And without giving too much away again, very dark family secrets come to light.
Eve’s Bayou cost 3 million to make but ended up making 14 million at the box office. But it’s impact went further than just making a profit. With it’s deep storyline, amazing acting, and powerful messaging, it was well received by critics as well. The Chicago Sun-Times‘ Roger Ebert named it the best film of 1997. CNN, Empire, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Observer, The New York Times, TIME, Variety, and The Washington Post also loudly praised the film and its performances. In 2008, Eve’s Bayou made TIME‘s list of The 25 Most Important Films on Race. In 2009, Debbi Morgan’s portrayal of Mozelle Batiste Delacroix was included in Pop Matters’ 100 Essential Female Film Performances list. And In 2012, Jurnee Smollett’s role as Eve was included in Essence Magazine’s 25 Best Roles for Black Actresses list.
Haunting yet strangely beautiful, Eve’s Bayou is a must see in the genre and a true #CultrueClassic.
In 2018, Eve’s Bayou was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
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Written by @TalentedMrFord