Once in a while a movie comes along that captures a time so exquisitely that you wonder how other film-makers can continue churning out derivative, second-rate popcorn fodder. Lemmons' debut is an artfully told story; totally involving, brilliantly acted and directed in such a way that all sense of fiction is lost. Instead, it takes on a reality that enters the mind with its haunting imagery.
The simplicity of the basic narrative makes Eve's Bayou appear deceptively straightforward. But, as with To Kill A Mockingbird, there are hidden depths. It constantly plays tricks on you, showing how truth is coloured by a person's perception. For example, Eve's world veers between the real and the supernatural. She sits in on her aunt's psychic sessions and learns about black magic from a fortune-telling rival. Eve has visions of the future; black and white montages that confuse and startle her.
But she is slow to realise her gift, too concerned by how her family is changing. Dad, her hero, explains his dalliances with other women as part of his nature. In one memorable scene, her aunt, who seemed so strong, falls apart as she recalls the deaths of her three husbands. Her sister, with whom she was once close, shuns her. Even Eve's ma can no longer be relied on to say the right thing.
Jackson, as the womanising doctor, is convincingly charming despite his moral flaws. The female cast are strong, with Smollett, Morgan and Good deserving special credit. Many were surprised at how well this did at the box office in the US. So when will it cease amazing the industry that a good, well-told story makes people go to the cinema?