The story centers around the experiences of 10-year-old Eve Batiste (Jurnee
Smollett) and her older sister Cicely (Meagan Good), who compete for the
affections of their beloved father, Louis (Samuel L. Jackson). Louis is
the town's doctor, a very attractive, dashing man who has a propensity for
having affairs with his female patients although he claims to love
his wife, Roz (Lynn Whitfield), whom he describes as the most beautiful
woman he has ever seen.
The story begins when Eve witnesses a liaison between her father and
a local woman not known for her class or fidelity to her husband. Eve tearfully
interrupts them, and Louis talks to her for a few minutes and thinks the
episode is over. But Eve is on to what her father is doing, and from then
on, watches him like a hawk.
Louis's psychic sister Mozelle (Debbi Morgan) has the gift of seeing
the future, and runs a successful business telling fortunes, although she
failed to predict the deaths of her own three husbands, who continually
haunt her thoughts throughout the film. She is convinced that she's a jinx,
and resigns herself to the notion that she cannot ever marry again. But
out of nowhere comes a mysterious, attractive artist named Grayraven (Vondie
Curtis Hall), who needs her services but has no money to pay. He paints
her picture, and the two fall in love. Now she must decide whether to subject
him to the danger of being her husband.
Meanwhile, Louis's habitual dalliances continue to upset Eve, but when
it starts to involve sister Cicely, Eve has had enough. She takes desperate
measures, enlisting another spiritual entrepreneur (Diahann Carroll), who
helps Eve seek retribution against her dad with a voodoo curse and
it all backfires.
This movie, written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, is really two separate stories: that of Eve and her conflicting feelings toward her father, and of Mozelle's ongoing relationship problems. It is very well acted and very well directed, with a great blues soundtrack. The dark complexities of this family's story are intriguing, although the plot seems to meander a bit at times; it seems a long time before the film gets to the point. But all the characters are very real and well-defined, especially Eve's. I think Smollett is likely to get an Oscar nomination for this, as she should. ****½
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