United States, 109 mins, Dir. Kasi Lemmons
The three great black films of the 1990s are, in this order: To Sleep with Anger from Charles Burnett, One False Move from Carl Franklin, and Eve’s Bayou from Kasi Lemmons. The first and third are family dramas, the second is neo-noir. All have almost nothing to do with an issue that, for good reason, is important to most black directors: race relations. In the case of Eve’s Bayou, which is set in the 1960s, the family is prosperous and even claims aristocratic blood from a French ancestor. The father, played superbly by Samuel L. Jackson, is the doctor for the “colored community” in a sleepy corner of Louisiana. The doctor lives in a mansion with his mother, wife, and three children (two girls and a boy). The doctor makes no effort whatsoever to be faithful to his wife, Roz (Lynn Whitfield). When he is not at home, he is most likely sleeping with one of his clients rather than treating them.
The 1997 film revolves around this serial philandering. It breaks Roz’s heart, and sexually confuses the doctor’s eldest daughter, Cisely (Meagan Good). She, like many of the women in her community, deeply admires the doctor, but this feeling of admiration is also mixed with sexual attraction. The film—which is expertly directed and written by Lemmons (the director of Harriet), and edited by Terilyn A. Shropshire (one of the few black female editors in the industry)—is about the messiness of sexual awakening.
More great films directed by women:
Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird The Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending Signe Baumane's Rocks in My Pockets Suzan Pitt's Asparagus Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman