Eve's Bayou

Movie review by
Lynnette Nicholas, Common Sense Media
Eve's Bayou Movie Poster Image
'90s African American family drama has violence, language.
  • R
  • 1997
  • 109 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Messages of strong sister relationships, intuitive family matriarchs, and honest, intimate conversations among women. Despite being affluent, family members don't put their physically disabled family member in nursing home. A younger family member shows compassion, empathy, honesty with her aunt. Kids in family are allowed to be unique individuals, to express themselves. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Batiste women are elegant, perceptive, not afraid to show love to men and their family members. Aunt Mozelle is a role model in her ability to allow Eve to be her authentic self. As an aunt, Mozelle passes down family history and secrets to her beloved niece. Eve, though just a child, is a role model in that she exercises compassion and empathy toward others. 

Violence

A man is shot, a child dies after being run over by a bus, adults argue. Talk of voodoo as a means to inflict harm on others.

Sex

On-screen kiss between an adult and a child. A sex scene that doesn't include nudity. Adult kissing, some sexual innuendo. Adultery is a theme.

Language

Some strong language, such as "N" word, "ass," "s--t," "a-hole," "f--king," "monkey ass." A child has a meltdown and uses the word "damn."

Consumerism

A child steals $20 to give to a fortune teller. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult drinking and cigarette smoking. After fancy family party, in-laws have a drunken argument and mini-scuffle.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Eve's Bayou is a 1962-set drama directed and written by Kasi Lemmons (Harriet, Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker) about a wealthy Louisiana doctor and his family and their secrets. There are themes of the supernatural, Southern mysticism, religion, voodoo, as well as depictions of strong family relationships and female matriarchs. There's some adult drinking and cigarette smoking, and swearing (the "N" word, "ass," "s--t," "a-hole," "f--king," "monkey ass"). The film has violence -- a man is shot, a child is hit by a bus, and there's some family quarreling. There's an on-screen kiss between an adult and a child, and some sexual scenes that don't include nudity. Adultery is a theme. However, this film is rich in the many cultural, historic, and aesthetic narratives interwoven within the storyline. There's also a positive depiction of strong relationships between sisters. This film is appropriate for older teens and showcases the legacy of many Southern people of color in a very nuanced manner. 

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What's the story?

EVE'S BAYOU centers on Eve (Jurnee Smollet), a 10-year-old girl who witnesses her father, Dr. Louis Batiste (Samuel L. Jackson), the most well-respected doctor in an upscale "colored" community in Louisiana, having an affair with Matty Mereaux (Lisa Nicole Carson), despite having a beautiful, gracious wife Roz Batiste (Lynn Whitfield). When Eve divulges this information to her big sister, Cisely (Meagan Good), who has a very close and endearing relationship with her father, her sister tries to dissuade Eve's perception of things. Family secrets, family relationships, and generational spiritual gifts all converge one chaotic summer in 1962 in the cozy Southern community of Eve's Bayou.

Is it any good?

This movie masterfully weaves together a tapestry that transparently depicts the burdens of young Black girlhood, the legacy of 'blood memory' and spiritual generational inheritances. Set in Louisiana, a geographical location that's laced with unspoken histories buried in the very soil, Eve's Bayou symbolically highlights the bridge that links the past and the present. The women in Eve's Bayou have supernatural gifts, and the narrator speaks of her African ancestor Eve.

 Eve's Bayou provides powerful visual imagery for the esoteric, supernatural, and religious themes present within the film. Topics such as the importance of oral history, family historians inheriting the gift of "sight," and the jelimuso, a West African term for the memory of the people, are denoted within the film. However, the notion remains that memory can also be unreliable. As the opening and ending quote of the film states, "Memory is a selection of images, some elusive, others printed indelibly on the brain." This is a beautiful film that remains culturally, historically, and aesthetically relevant.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stereotypes. In Eve's Bayou, the families of color depicted all own their own homes, have good jobs, drive fancy cars, and have social grace. In what way do the characters in the film defy stereotypes

  • There are many strong female relationships in Eve's Bayou. In what ways do the Baptiste kids show their love for one another? In what way does Eve Baptiste show courage, curiosity, and empathy in her actions? In what ways does Eve's honesty lead to negative or positive consequences in the film? 

  • Sight and memory are major themes within this film. It what way is the ability to "see" into other realms depicted in Eve's Bayou? What role do symbols play in the storytelling?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love African American stories

Themes & Topics

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