Eve's Bayou is the respectable
first feature by writer/director Kasi Lemmons. It's set in a
small swampy town in south Louisiana and narrated by the
10-year-old Eve (Jurnee Smollett), who tells us in the first few
minutes that this is the summer that she killed her father.
It begins with a party at the home of
Eve's parents, Roz (Lynn Whitfield) and Louis (Samuel L.
Jackson). Sullen about the attention her mother pays to her
little brother and father to her older sister, Eve takes refuge
in an old carriage house, where she later witnesses her father
carrying on with another woman. Eve's sister Cisely (Meagan Good)
explains the incident away, but neither of the girls can ignore
the late nights her father keeps or the whisperings among her
mother and Aunt Mozelle (Debbi Morgan). When the pain caused by
Louis' philandering gets too much to bear, Eve consults Elzora
(Diahann Carroll), a white-faced voodoo practitioner, who takes
the girl's $20 to make her wish that her father were dead come
There's a certain lushness to Eve's
Bayou, created by Lemmons' able storytelling that is carried
out well by the cast. Lemmons makes what Eve sees seem huge and
heavy with meaning. And her imagination has a lot to work with.
Her father, a doctor who has an irresistible charm and a knack
for disarming volatile situations by changing the subject, is a
hero. But he is flawed in an unforgivable way. Her mother is
beautiful but remote to her because of her fears. Her Aunt
Mozelle can see the future of others, yet can never predict that
any man who marries her inevitably dies.
What Eve's Bayou captures is the
power a parent's sins carry. It's the force that can destroy a