"The summer I killed my father, I was 10 years old."
This is the Director's Cut of "Eve's Bayou." According to the DVD specs, this cut of the film offers an additional 10 minutes of footage, none of which were cut particularly for racy content, but merely just to trim down the running time. It's been a while since I've seen the movie, but there was nothing really that stood out. Lucky for me, the commentaries point out the newly added scenes (mostly with a family member that doesn't appear throughout the original cut of the movie).
The year is 1962. A family has gotten together to celebrate. Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett) is a young, impressionable girl. At the party, Eve asks her father to dance with her, but he doesn't. Instead, later that night Eve discovers her father, Dr. Louis Batiste (Samuel L. Jackson), engaging in a highly questionable activity with another man's wife. At this point, her world comes crashing down.
A movie like "Eve's Bayou" works because of it's intelligent cast, the setting, and the way everything is presented through black-and-white flashbacks. The material covered in the film is certainly controversial, but makes for an interesting movie. In fact, there are many things that require a second or even a third viewing to catch. Samuel L. Jackson is especially good here, playing Dr. Batiste with a certain charm and humanity, despite having numerous and noticeable character flaws.
I really don't want to get into the major plot of the movie, as my discussing it may ruin your enjoyment of the film. Regardless, Dr. Batiste's relationship with Eve, and his other daughter Cisely (Meagan Good) falls to pieces over the course of the events of the movie.
Lion's Gate presents "Eve's Bayou" in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. Having never seen the original DVD release from a few years back, I can assume that the Signature Series transfer looks better (especially because its 16x9 enhanced). Anyways, colors are vivid, flesh tones looks about right, and the print is essentially free of flaws (specs of dirt appear in certain scenes).
The audio is presented here in Dolby 5.1. The score sounds really good, dialogue is crisp and clean, and there are no audio dropouts… but this time, I'm assuming that the Dolby 5.1 audio presentation is exactly the same as the one on the previous DVD release; so don't bother upgrading for the audio alone either.
Static DVD menu with the following choices: "Play Movie", "Audio", "Special Features", "Scene Index", and "Subtitles."
Essentially, Lion's Gate prepared a whole new host of special features for this edition of "Eve's Bayou." As far as I know, none of the special features from either release double up. For instance, a new commentary was recorded especially for the "Signature Series" version of this DVD. Accessible through the "Audio" section, the first of two commentaries are with Director Kasi Lemmons, Samuel L. Jackson, Jurnee Smollett, Meagan Good, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, and Vondle Curtis-Hall. This commentary is pretty laid back, with everyone having a fun time pointing things out in the movie. The second commentary is pretty technical, featuring the Production team that brought it to the screen: Kasi Lemmons, Cotty Chubb, Terilyn A. Shropshire, and Amy Vincent. Also a laid back commentary, this is more technical than the first, but offers some fairly interesting tidbits.
In addition to the commentaries, there is a trailer for "Eve's Bayou", and a short film entitled "Dr. Hugo" (this is also available on the other DVD release) with an optional commentary that was also present in the previous version. In what I guess you could call an easter egg, by clicking on the Lion's Gate logo on the main DVD menu, you can watch the trailer for "Monster's Ball."
"Eve's Bayou" is a very good film, and it has been given the royal treatment via the Lion's Gate Signature Series line. Unfortunately, it shares a few too many similarities with the original DVD release (5.1 audio, Dr. Hugo, and a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer). On the up side, it is a Director's Cut (containing over 10 extra minutes of deleted footage), the addition of a really fun actor's commentary as well as one from the Producers of the movie. For some of you, there isn't much here to merit a mandatory upgrade for current owners of "Eve's Bayou." But for everyone else, this is a DVD worth checking out; especially with a very affordable MSRP of $19.99.