It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Deliver Us From Eva" is the other movie of the same weekend based on a romantic bet. See my review of "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" (in today's WeekendPlus) for my general comments on this unhappy genre. It has the advantage of being about one bet, not two, preserving at least one of the protagonists as a person we can safely like. But it proceeds so deliberately from one plot point to the next that we want to stand next to the camera, holding up cards upon which we have lettered clues and suggestions.
The movie stars two tall and striking actors, Gabrielle Union and LL Cool J, who have every reason to like each other anyway, even if Union's brothers-in-law were not paying him $5,000 to take her out, make her fall in love, and move with her to a town far, far away. They can't stand the woman. Well, hardly can we.
Union plays Eva, oldest of the four Dandridge Sisters. After the untimely death of their parents, Eva took upon the task of raising the girls, and has never been able to stop giving the orders--no, not even now that they're grown up. The sisters are Kareenah (Essence Atkins), who won't get pregnant, on Eva's orders; Bethany (Robinne Lee), who Eva won't let live with her cop boyfriend, and Jacqui (Meagan Good), who is married to a mailman who always feels like there's postage due.
The Dandridge Sisters like their local fame and kind of enjoy being under Eva's motherly thumb. The director, Gary Hardwick, often films them cresting a hill, four abreast, hair and skirts flying, arms linked, while straggling after them are their luckless men, left in the rear. Much of the action centers on a beauty parlor, serving, like the title location in "Barbershop," as the stage upon which daily soap operas are played out to loud acclaim or criticism.