Plot: Eve (Jurnee Smollette) is a young daughter of the Batiste family, one of the area’s more affluent families and one that is well known to all the locals. She has a keen eye and a lot of curiosity, as she is compelled to investigate her surroundings and be aware of what is going on around her. Her father Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) is a doctor and makes house calls all over town, which keeps him away from home often, much to Eve’s displeasure. At a house party, she watches the grownups and wishes she could dance, especially with her dad. When she can’t find him, she searches for him and sees him in the boathouse, with a woman that isn’t her mother. She doesn’t fully understand what she has seen, but she knows it wasn’t right. Over the course of a summer, this issue will surface once again, as well as several other threads for Batiste family, as secrets are revealed and family members are turned against once another.
Entertainment Value: Eve’s Bayou is a deep south drama, with excellent atmosphere and a fantastic cast. I love the mood of this movie, as it feels so tangible and even poetic at times, resulting in a dark, but beautiful picture. The narrative is multi-threaded and not as simple as it seems, with some open ended moments that lean on how characters saw certain events, rather than what happened. This is sure to frustrate some, as clear and definitive answers aren’t often given up in Eve’s Bayou, but I think it was the right approach here. Given how character driven the movie is, it makes that we have to rely on their perspectives to drive some of the events, even if their viewpoint might not tell the entire tale. There’s a consistent tension that runs through this one, thanks to that remarkable atmosphere I mentioned before. There’s just a feel or vibe to Eve’s Bayou that is so effective, it reels you in and keeps you there. This is an ensemble piece and the cast is superb, with no weak links involved. Samuel L. Jackson turns in a restrained effort that shows his more subtle side, while Jurnee Smollett and Meagan Good have a believable chemistry as sisters, especially when emotions run hot. But this is a deep, talented roster, so even smaller roles are filled by capable performers. I think Eve’s Bayou is a tense, masterful drama that deserves a higher profile and wider audience than it has found.
No nakedness. The movie has several scenes of a sexual nature, but it all either happens off screen or nothing is visible in the shot. The scene between Louis and his daughter is an intense one, regardless of who the storyteller happens to be, but it is handled in as tasteful a manner as possible. No blood. There is some mild violence at times, but it never results in intense bloodshed or graphic images. But some scenes are tense, without question. The writing here is great and really shines in the character driven moments, but the dialogue is mostly serious in tone, so not much wildness. A few choice quips do make it through, however. But again, don’t think the low score is a slight on the script, it is just the low quotient of outlandish or memorable lines. The movie does some quirky moments however, with the colorful characters, slight supernatural currents, and dark, sometimes even eerie tone. But for the most part, Eve’s Bayou is a grounded, serious movie, so it isn’t too wild.
Overall Insanity: 1/10