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Critic's Pick

'Eve's Bayou'

October 25, 1998|Kevin Thomas

There has never been a film quite like Kasi Lemmons' shimmering 1996 debut film. "Eve's Bayou" is virtually unique as a fable about an old Louisiana Creole family that happens to be black, living in an antique-filled manor house. As a memory piece of acute psychological insight it is as evocative of time and place as a work by Truman Capote or Tennessee Williams. "Eve's Bayou" is an inspired achievement. We share in a mystical experience of what it means to be a black woman--proud, beautiful, vulnerable yet resilient. It unfolds from the point of view of a 10-year-old girl (Jurnee Smollett, pictured); it is her voice as a woman looking back over the decades that serves as the film's narration. With Samuel L. Jackson as her wayward father, Lynn Whitfield as her beautiful but unhappy mother, and most vividly, Debbi Morgan as Jackson's gorgeous, fiery sister, and Diahann Carroll as a ferocious local voodoo woman. Lemmons not only sees all these people in the round but also understands that human relations can be a "Rashomon"--that truth can seemingly vary depending on the point of view (HBO Tuesday at 8 p.m.).

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