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Eve’s Bayou (Blu-ray Review)

3 min read

Criterion

Viewers of the marvellous Shudder Documentary from 2019, Horror Noire, will no doubt have been struck by the wealth of that we haven't seen. Thankfully, those lovely boutique labels have your back, and Criterion are releasing 's directorial debut for the first time in the UK.

While Eve's Bayou certainly has a -y flavour to it, it is by no means a horror. Fiercely enveloped in southern Black culture, the influences of Christianity, Voodoo and Spiritualism combine to create the 1960s world that young Eve (Jurnee Smollett) inhabits. Central to the plot, that uncanny ability children have to half rationalise the actions of the adults around them. And the inability of adults to fully understand how much the children who witness their transgressions really comprehend.

Criterion

Sumptuous surroundings, the Louisiana swamp, the richness of the homes and the stunning clothing give a different view of people living their best lives. Eve's father, Louis Batiste (Samuel L. Jackson) a well-respected Doctor, living a secret fantasy separate to his life as a husband and father. There is duality in spades and misunderstood conflicts, as a child witnesses something she barely understands. This is all complimented by Terence Blanchard's stunning and otherworldly score.

Lemmons anchors this world in her own childhood, with all the characters being loosely based on either herself or her family members. Including some members with the ability to see visions of the future, and an aunt labelled as a black widow thanks to her multiple deceased husbands. Lemmons speaks in the bonus features of how she fought to have an entirely black cast, against Hollywood requests to include “just one white character, they can even be a bad guy?”… But they were missing the point of course. Eve's Bayou is a snapshot of such a particular place and time that to alter anything of her original story would be reductive.

Watching as an adult of course, you can explain the conflicts that Eve is so confused by, but even then, one particular is shown in such a way to leave a lifelong ambivalence for Eve and her sister Cisely (Meagan Good). Such is real life.

Criterion

The disc includes a wealth of bonus features, the director's cut and theatrical, but also interviews with cast and crew. A long interview with Kasi Lemmons gives insight as to the writing and production process, and how personal a story it is to her. Alongside explanation of her background as an actress, usually relegated to the best friend in films such as Candyman and The Silence of The Lambs. Perhaps the highlight though is the short film Dr. Hugo, intended as a practice run for Eve's Bayou. This short allowed Lemmons to cut her teeth with a crew and a story similar to her intended one, and despite this being her first try at direction the style and tone intended is clear from the off. It highlights just how precise her vision was, and her ability to bring that to reality.

Eve's Bayou is a delicious, nuanced and fascinating exploration of a world not often seen on screen. More like this please.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED TWO-BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

  • New 4K digital restoration of the director's cut, supervised by director Kasi Lemmons and cinematographer Amy Vincent, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • New 4K digital restoration of the original 108-minute theatrical-release version
  • Audio commentary on the director's cut featuring Lemmons, Vincent, producer Caldecot Chubb, and editor Terilyn A. Shropshire
  • Dr. Hugo (1996), a short film Lemmons made as a proof of concept for Eve's Bayou, in a new 4K digital transfer
  • New interview with Lemmons
  • Cast reunion footage
  • Interview with composer Terence Blanchard
  • New program showcasing black-and-white Polaroids that Vincent took during production
  • Cast and crew photographs by William Eggleston
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Kara Keeling

    New cover by Nessim Higson

Eve's Bayou is released on the on October 21st