Eve (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is a ten-year-old girl in the not-quite-specified-when past. Her close-knit family includes her edgy mother Roz (Lynn Whitfield), philandering father Louis (Samuel L. Jackson), younger brother Poe (Jake Smollett), teenage sister Cisely (Meagan Good), and aunt Mozelle (Debbi Morgan), a psychic counselor. When Cisely tells Eve that Louis molested her, Eve vows revenge, going to a local fortune teller (Diahann Carroll) for a voodoo spell to kill her father. The results are far from what she expected, and her innocence is lost forever.
The film was written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, whom you may remember as the sassy best friend in The Silence of the Lambs and Candyman. Her talents are rather wasted on the roles she’s usually handed, and actually according to Internet Movie Database, she hasn’t acted since 2012. Thankfully, she has kept directing; as of 2019 her most recent credits include an episode of Luke Cage, and oh yeah, a little movie called Harriet.
Eve’s Bayou is an involving, emotionally charged film. The viewer feels deeply for Eve as the neglected middle sister who just wants some attention. Her decision to curse her father is understandable as we too are exposed to his selfish ways—not only his behavior toward Cisely but his continuous cheating on Roz. There’s even a scene when he takes Eve on his route as the town doctor; he leaves her outside while claiming to “cure” his “client.” The cinematography is stunning—Lemmons makes the swamp look beautiful. It also has some interesting things to say about objectivity and memory.
On my last viewing, I put the movie on intending to watch it by myself. My husband, uninterested, was planning to do some work on his laptop, but instead wound up getting sucked in and watched it to the end. Give this one a look if you’re in the mood for a well-written, well-acted, classy movie about voodoo. Or, like me, you’re in love with Kasi Lemmons.