Eve's Bayou
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Eve's Bayou

Eve's Bayou
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKasi Lemmons
Produced byCaldecot Chubb
Samuel L. Jackson
Mark Amin
Nick Wechsler
Written byKasi Lemmons
Music byTerence Blanchard
CinematographyAmy Vincent
Edited byTerilyn A. Shropshire
Distributed byTrimark Pictures
Release date
  • November 7, 1997 (1997-11-07)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million[1]
Box office$14,842,388[2]

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

In 2018, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."[3][4][5]


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) 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 Matty Mereaux (Lisa Nicole Carson), a family friend. 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 regard 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 (Debbi Morgan) who works as a "psychic counselor" and has had three husbands who all died violently; the most recent having died in a car crash. Eve, who has a premonitory dream shortly before the accident occurs, is told by Mozelle that the gift of second sight runs in their family. Mozelle's gift also brings her into direct conflict with Elzora (Diahann Carroll), a fortune teller and possible witch with similar abilities. When asked for a reading by Roz, Elzora implies that an unexpected "solution" to her problem will arise, but to wait and look to her children in the meantime. When Mozelle grudgingly makes a similar request, Elzora cruelly tells her that she is a "black widow," whose future husbands will suffer the same fate as her previous ones. Meanwhile, Eve, frustrated by her father's infidelity, begins to act out, bringing her into conflict with the other members of her family. Cisely begins to behave strangely as well, isolating herself from the family after experiencing her first period.

Cisely later confides in Eve the secret behind her strange mood. She tells her that one night, after their parents had a vicious argument, Cisely went to comfort her father and he, while drunk, attempted to molest her. Enraged, Eve seeks out Elzora to commission a voodoo spell to put a fatal curse on her father. While on her way to visit the witch, Eve runs into Lenny Mereaux (Roger Guenveur Smith) and questions him about his teaching job that keeps him away from home. In the conversation, she alludes to a possible tryst between his wife, Matty, and 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, per her request, 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 he will kill him if he talks to Matty again. After Louis says goodbye to Matty, 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 discover what really happened. It ends with the sisters holding hands, gazing at the sunset.


Reception and impact

The film received positive reviews, with Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert naming it the best film of 1997.[6][7]CNN's Paul Tatara,[8]Empire,[9]Entertainment Weekly,[10]The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times,[11]The New York Observer,[12]The New York Times,[13]TIME,[14]Variety,[15] and The Washington Post also loudly praised the film and its performances.

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 82% based on 55 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Eve's Bayou marks a striking feature debut for director Kasi Lemmons, layering terrific performances and Southern mysticism into a measured meditation on disillusionment and forgiveness."[16] The film did receive many accolades. Debbi Morgan's performance would be her most honored film role, with four nominations and two wins.[17] The film is also noted for Jurnee Smollett's performance; up to this point, she had worked primarily as a TV actress, with Jack as her only previous film.

In February 2008, Eve's Bayou made TIME's list of The 25 Most Important Films on Race.[18]

On February 16, 2009, Debbi Morgan's portrayal of Mozelle Batiste Delacroix was included in Pop Matters' 100 Essential Female Film Performances list.[19]

In 2012, Jurnee Smollett's role as Eve Batiste was included in Essence Magazine's 25 Best Roles for Black Actresses list.[20]


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)


  1. ^ Jackson, Samuel L. (January 22, 1998). "Samuel L. Jackson -- Charlie Rose (quote at 10:54)" (Interview). Interviewed by Charlie Rose. Retrieved 2019. I was a big enough name to get three million dollars to get it made. And that's what we made it for. Three million dollars? Three million dollars, yeah.
  2. ^ "Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. December 12, 1997. Retrieved 2011.
  3. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (December 12, 2018). "'Jurassic Park,' 'The Shining' and 'Cinderella' Among Movies Chosen for National Film Registry". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020.
  5. ^ "National Film Registry Turns 30". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ Siskel and Ebert At The Movies: Best Movies of 1997 on YouTube Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  7. ^ "Eve's Bayou, rogerebert.com". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. November 7, 1997. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ "''Paul Tatara's review''". CNN. November 11, 1997. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ "''Empire review''". Empire. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ Lisa Schwarzbaum (November 7, 1997). "''Entertainment Weekly review''". Ew.com. Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ Lim, Dennis. "''Los Angeles Times review''". Calendarlive.com. Retrieved 2011.
  12. ^ Sarris, Andrew. "''New York Observer review''". Observer.com. Retrieved 2011.
  13. ^ Holden, Stephen (November 7, 1997). "''New York Times review''". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011.
  14. ^ RICHARD CORLISS Monday, Oct. 13, 1997 (October 13, 1997). "''TIME review''". Time. Retrieved 2011.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Levy, Emanuel (September 13, 1997). "''Variety review''". Variety. Retrieved 2011.
  16. ^ "Eve's Bayou Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010.
  17. ^ Debbi Morgan - Awards
  18. ^ Corliss, Richard (February 4, 2008). "Eve's Bayou (1997) - The 25 Most Important Films on Race". TIME. Retrieved 2011.
  19. ^ "''100 Essential Female Film Performances''". Popmatters.com. Retrieved 2011.
  20. ^ "25 Best Roles for Black Actresses". Essence. Retrieved 2013.

External links

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