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Leary, K. Lemmons, K. (2000). Remembering and Repeating in Eve's Bayou. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(3):599-601.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(3):599-601

Remembering and Repeating in Eve's Bayou

Review by:
Kimberlyn Leary

Director Kasi Lemmons

In a recent issue of this journal, Glen Gabbard suggested that film ‘speaks the language of the unconscious’ (1997, p. 429). Films do their psychological work at the intersection of what is private and what is public. A film is effective when it taps into the hopes and fears of the audience and bridges the gap between private internal experience and collective psychology. In this way, the cinema serves as guardian both of personal subjectivity and public memory.

Kasi Lemmons's film Eve's Bayou occupies this divide between private reminiscence and public recollection. The film begins with an arresting voice-over: ‘The summer I killed my father; I was 10 years old’. Told from the view-point of young Eve Batiste, the film is a haunting account of a black Creole family in the Louisiana bayou of 1962. It is a sequestered and self-contained world that few outsiders ever encounter. The Batiste family—descended from a slave, also named Eve, who saved her master's life and then bore him sixteen mulatto children—live a life of relative privilege in this black-only realm of river and swamp.

Eve's father, Louis, is the town's physician. He is a handsome but reckless man who spurns his beautiful wife only to parade his affairs with married women under her nose.

At a summer party, Eve is witness to her mother's humiliation as Louis twirls his latest conquest, Matty Mereaux, across the dance floor. Eve herself burns with jealousy when her father turns his attention to her older sister, Cecily, whom he chooses for his next dance.

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