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the entire movie.
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 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 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. She tells the story that one night after their parents had a vicious argument, Cisely went to comfort her father and while he was drunk, he attempted to molest her. Enraged, Eve seeks out a local witch, Elzora (Diahann Carroll), 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 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 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 Matty again he will kill him. After Louis says bye 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 Cisely 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.
- Jurnee Smollett as Eve Batiste
- Debbi Morgan as Mozelle Batiste Delacroix
- Samuel L. Jackson as Louis Batiste
- Lynn Whitfield as Roz Batiste
- Diahann Carroll as Elzora
- Lisa Nicole Carson as Matty Mereaux
- Meagan Good as Cisely Batiste
- Roger Guenveur Smith as Lenny Mereaux
- Vondie Curtis-Hall as Julian Grayraven
- Branford Marsalis as Harry
- Carol Sutton as Madame Renard
- Ethel Ayler as Gran Mere
- Jake Smollett as Poe Batiste
- Leonard L. Thomas as Maynard
- Victoria Rowell as Stevie Hobbs
The filming locations took place in Louisiana in Covington, Madisonville and Napoleonville.
"Eve's Bayou" debuted at #8 at the box office, grossing $3,287,846 during its opening weekend. It grossed $14,842,388 domestically.
"Eve's Bayou" received positive reviews from critics.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film was given an 80% rating based on 50 reviews.
Roger Ebert gave the movie four stars, calling it the best film of 1997.
The New York Times said, "Eve's Bayou is a film that really believes in psychic portents and in magic, both white and black".
Variety magazine said, "Kasi Lemmons' "Eve's Bayou" is an intensely emotional family drama that mixes elements of Southern Gothic with the kinds of characters and tensions that prevail in the plays of Tennessee Williams and other Southern writers. Anchored by a strong cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield and Diahann Carroll, this talented debut by a black female writer-director is a well-made, if also old-fashioned, multi-generational drama".
It also received positive reception from Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Observer and the Washington Post.
In February of 2008, "Eve's Bayou" made TIME's list of "The 25 Most Important Films on Race."
On February 16, 2009, Debbi Morgan's portrayal of Mozelle Batiste Delacroix was included in Pop Matters' "100 Essential Female Film Performances" list.
In 2012, Jurnee Smollett's role as Eve Batiste in the film was included in Essence Magazine's "25 Best Roles for Black Actresses" list.
1997 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
- Best Child Performance: Jurnee Smollett (winner)
1997 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
- Best Supporting Actress: Debbi Morgan (winner)
1997 National Board of Review Awards
- Outstanding Directorial Debut: Kasi Lemmons (winner)
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)