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Eve's Bayou Movie Review

daddy batiste morgan little

There are few tasks tougher on a writer than to reveal an unpleasant character, warts and all, through the eyes of a child who loves him with all her heart. First-time writer/director Kasi Lemmons has accomplished this stunning feat with an effortless skill and mature compassion that many grizzled veterans would envy. The story begins with the adult reflections of Eve Batiste, narrated by Tamara Tunie: “The summer I killed my father, I was 10 years old.” Even though we know that at the outset, Lemmons’ gripping tale is filled with 109 minutes of surprises. Jurnee Smollett is little Eve, the less-favored daughter of the much-admired Dr. Louis Batiste (Samuel L. Jackson) and his beautiful wife Roz (Lynn Whitfield). Eve's longing for her father's approval is revealed in a 1962 party sequence where he dances with her older sister Cisely (Meagan Good). Why, Eve wonders, doesn't Daddy ask her to dance FIRST? In the course of the party, Eve wanders out to the barn where she finds Daddy in flagrante delicto with Mrs. Matty Meraux (Lisa Nicole Carson). Daddy denies Eve's perception of the incident and, later that night, when Eve tells Cisely what happened in the barn, Cisely denies it, too, and deconstructs the episode to show Eve what might have happened instead. Nevertheless, Eve's idealization of Daddy ends that night, and so does her perception of her entire family. Home is no longer a safe harbor for the little girl anymore. Much of the running time is preoccupied with secret sex and voodoo magic. Do the sex and magic contribute to the outcome, or are they merely catalysts for everyone's inevitable destiny? The life of Aunt Mozelle Batiste Delacroix (Debbi Morgan) is dominated more by voodoo than by her much more reliable common sense. It is only the love of a good man (Vondie Curtis-Hall as Julian Greyraven) that convinces Mozelle to buck fate and follow her heart. Diahann Carroll has a flamboyant star turn as voodoo queen Elzora, to whom little Eve turns for help when she can see no way out of her family's nightmare existence. Eve's Bayou is filled with beautiful performances and a shattering view of how a smart, charming womanizer can destroy the lives of everyone he touches, including his own.

1997 (R) 109m/C Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whit-field, Debbi Morgan, Diahann Carroll, Jurnee Smollett, Meagan Good, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Lisa Nicole Carson, Jake Smollett, Ethel Ayler; D: Kasi Lemmons; W: Kasi Lemmons; C: Amy Vincent; M: Terence Blanchard; V: Tamara Tunie. Independent Spirit Awards ‘98: Best First Feature, Best Supporting Actress (Morgan). VHS

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