Eve's Bayou (1997)

Diahann have a supporting role in this motion picture about Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), a 10-year-old girl, and her perceptions of her family. Her father Louis (Samuel L. Jackson - also producer of the film) is the highly respected town doctor who can fix everything, except his own family's problems. Her mother Roz (Lynn Whitfield), a beautiful and long-suffering woman, her aunt (Debbi Morgan), a woman obsessed with the supernatural, and Elzora (Diahann Carroll), a "woodo woman", make up the rest of Eve's circle.

About her role, Diahann says, "When I was approached, I thought it was not to be taken seriously -- no makeup. And the wig. I thought, I don't really know that I want to go that far. When I saw that it worked, then I was relieved. But I'm not a pretty picture." Diahann actually wears alot of makeup in some of the scenes: pale powder to make her look like a real woodo woman...

This 1997 movie, which has been praised by the critics, is directed and written by Kasi Lemmons. It also stars Vondie Curtis Hall, Branford Marsalis and Lisa Nicole Carson.

Review by Michael A Maynez:
Move over Ingmar Bergman, here comes Kasi Lemmons, debuting as an auspicious writer director with a simmering, shimmering story to match. The likes of authors Tennessee Williams, John Berendt and Truman Capote with the dynamic "Eve's Bayou". A community so named after a slave that saved the life of a white planter with her medicinal powers was set free as her reward.

Now Eve Batiste the young ten-year-old daughter of Dr. Louis Batiste, played like a true aristocratic scoundrel, by Samuel L. Jackson, who attends to all his patients needs, particularly if they are women, is a revelation in cinematic deceit. Eve narrates the story as her memory recreates what she remembers, which in this case touches all the women in her family. Her mother, her aunt, her sister, her brother, her gran mere, and that black magic woman Elzora, played with mischievous delight by Diahann Carroll. The pain of her mother in contending with all the infidelities of her husband. The fourteen year older sister with a secret too vile for Eve to really comprehend, but when she does it has irrevocable consequences. The aunt with psychic powers is lush putty in the hands of Debbi Morgan, glamorous, fiery and in desperate need to protect her young niece Eve. She can foretell the needs of everyone, except the deaths of her three previous husbands. Lynn Whitfield as the understanding wife that doesn't want to understand anymore, beautifully escalates the emotions of her lot to a lonely bed surrounded only by her children. Jurnee Smollett plays Eve with such naturalness that you are never aware that she is acting.

The whole cast is so cohesive that you are only aware of a spirituality that must have guided Kasi Lemmons throughout this Bayou. She has surrounded herself with people of great insight into the Louisiana Bayou, which with the cinematography of Amy Vincent makes us be there, costumes, music and production design are of the very essence of great quality.

Trimark the distributor has possibly offered the best description of the movie, "The true topography of Eve's Bayou is a locale somewhere between the material and spiritual worlds, where truth and its perception can change shape, depending on he light of day." The haunting magic of this movie is remarkable soul food. 


Jurnee Smollett ... Eve Batiste
Meagan Good ... Cisely Batiste
Samuel L. Jackson ... Louis Batiste
Lynn Whitfield ... Roz Batiste
Debbi Morgan ... Mozelle Batiste Delacroix
Jake Smollett ... Poe Batiste
Ethel Ayler ... Gran Mere
Diahann Carroll ... Elzora
Vondie Curtis-Hall ... Julian Grayraven
Roger Guenveur Smith ... Lenny Mereaux
Lisa Nicole Carson ... Matty Mereaux
Branford Marsalis ... Harry
Afonda Colbert ... Henrietta
Lola Dalferes ... Lynette
Marcus Lyle Brown ... Hosea

Written and directed by: Kasi Lemmons
Produced by: Caldecot Chubb, Samuel L. Jackson
Co-producer: Cevin Cathell
Co-producers: Jay Polstein, Cami Winikoff
Co-executive producers: Michael Bennett, Margaret Matheson
Executive producers: Mark Amin, Eli Selden, Nick Wechsler, Julie Yorn
Costume designer: Karyn Wagner
Original score by: Terence Blanchard
Executive music producer: Gary English
Edited by: Terilyn A. Shropshire
Director of photography: Amy Vincent

The movie premiered November 7, 1997 and was released by Trimark Pictures.


Originally released on both VHS and DVD, the movie is still available on DVD. It includes production commentary, a short film by Kasi Lemmons ("Dr. Hugo"), theatrical trailer and more.

Trimark Home Video, 2003.

EXTERNAL LINKS (Opens in new window)

The Five Heartbeats on IMDB.com
The Five Heartbeats on Wikipedia