Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. 100
    All of these moments unfold in a film of astonishing maturity and confidence; Eve's Bayou, one of the very best films of the year, is the debut of its writer and director, Kasi Lemmons.
  2. 100
    Lemmons' command of cinematic style, her appreciation of the chimerical aspects of life and her ability to inspire actors to give remarkably faceted portrayals mark Eve's Bayou a first film of exceptional promise.
  3. But the notable accomplishment of actress-writer Kasi Lemmons ("The Silence of the Lambs") in her feature directorial debut is in creating a landscape quite beautiful and entirely her own -- a fluid, feminine, African-American, Southern gothic narrative that covers a tremendous amount of emotional territory with the lightest and most graceful of steps.
  4. Reviewed by: Cynthia Joyce
    90
    Eve's Bayou treads across a fragile and complex emotional landscape, and Lemmons is exceptionally adept at creating characters who are simultaneously despicable and lovable.
  5. Louisiana's delta country has never looked more darkly, lusciously sensual than it does in Eve's Bayou, a Southern gothic soap opera, written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, that transcends the genre through the sheer rumbling force of its characters' passions.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    90
    The poise and passion in Eve's Bayou leave one grateful, exhausted and nourished. For the restless spirit, here is true soul food.
  7. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    90
    Anchored by a strong cast, including Samuel L. Jackson (also credited as a producer), Lynn Whitfield and Diahann Carroll, this talented debut by a black female writer-director is a well-made, if also old-fashioned, multi-generational drama.
  8. Eve's Bayou is a movie unto itself, a rousing, original yarn about family life that includes everyone, whether they're from Louisiana or miles away. [07Nov1997 Pg N.48]
  9. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    80
    For another, this film is that still shamefully rare pleasure, an absorbing ensemble piece in which a fine group of actors get to show their class and range, playing a black American family who are prosperous, cultured and complex.
  10. 80
    Writer-director Kasi Lemmons works fast, and the world she conjures is powerfully realized.
  11. First and best, it's got a rip-roaring story. It sweeps you along, borne effortlessly by believable if flawed characters, as it flows toward the inevitable tragedy. But it's also got a heart: It watches as a child harsh of judgment learns that judgment is too easy a posture for the world, and it's best to love with compassion. [07Nov1997 Pg G.01]
  12. With her audience's full attention assured, first-time director Kasi Lemmons then proceeds to unravel a spellbinding, powerfully seductive tale that blends Southern Gothic magical realism and disturbing family drama with the flair of a born storytelling genius.
  13. You find yourself absorbed in simply looking at them to the extent that it's hard to hear what they're saying. It's a nice dilemma for a movie to present.
  14. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    75
    Indeed, Eve's milieu is fresh and specific enough to make even Jackson subordinate to Kasi Lemmons, the writer (and sometimes actress) who dreamed up this story for her directorial debut. [07Nov1997 Pg08.D]
  15. 75
    Rather than perpetuating racial stereotypes, Eve's Bayou defies them, creating several well-rounded characters and placing them in a deceptively complex story that builds to a forceful conclusion.
  16. Reviewed by: G. Alisha Davis
    70
    In the end, first-time writer-director Kasi Lemmon's ambitions exceed her skill, but her creativity and the breadth of her vision more than make up for her occasional missteps, luring us into a family album of secrets and lies that keeps the audience groping along with this fine ensemble cast for the truths buried in murky waters.
  17. 70
    Subplots are woven stealthily into the story, taking the pressure off the central drama, allowing it to be affecting rather than melodramatic, and heightening the atmosphere of the lush Louisiana setting.
  18. So what's the problem? Just that the plot seems a bit too schematic, the characters a little too pat, and the imagery altogether too convenient -- for a tale that means to explore the elusiveness of truth, Lemmons sure likes to sew things up neatly.
  19. In the end, however, the story is too contrived and melodramatic to reach its full potential.
  20. As a screenwriter, Lemmons is able to keep all the plot elements in place. But as a director, she is unable to keep things moving.
  21. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    50
    She's an adventurous, occasionally reckless filmmaker who deploys a full arsenal of cinematic flourishes, but Lemmons' lack of restraint gets in the way of her storytelling.

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