The Caveman's Valentine

2001

Crime / Drama

2
IMDb Rating 6.0

Synopsis


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105 min
P/S 22 / 6

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by imp-6 9/10

I shall not review the story. I've read all the submitted reviews. I aman MD and as such see this picture from a different standpoint thanthat of a movie-goer. I think it is the best acting from the standpointof being INSIDE of a paranoid schiz I'm aware of because you can seeand feel the confusion. If you are confused by the jumping around sotoo is the poor psycotic. His superior mentality is used as a pianistas well as a caring person for others. He fights to maintain realitybut "where is it" or "which is it?" Of course there is no clearing upat the end as there seldom is. But that is the beauty of this film.Feel and understand the plight of such a victim? Now maybe see itagain.

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Reviewed by jhclues 9/10

The thin line between genius and insanity is examined in this story of agifted man estranged from his family and separated from his vocation byhisseemingly unfounded paranoia. `The Caveman's Valentine,' directed by KasiLemmons, stars Samuel L. Jackson as Romulus Ledbetter, a former Julliardstudent, talented composer and pianist who now lives in a cave near a parkin New York City. Romulus treads that delicate line between reality andfantasy, his thought process interrupted by the `moth seraphs' that livewithin his head, but even during his most rational periods the demons ofhisdelusions plague him incessantly. He alternately recoils from and standsboldly upright against the presence of the towering skyscraper (theChryslerBuilding) wherein resides the `Big Brother' of his imagination, the manresponsible for his present state of being, a man named `Stiverson.' Butthen again, is it really only in his imagination?<br><br>In his cave, Romulus has an unconnected television set he watches, whichkeeps him abreast of the latest `lies' concocted by those in power andfoisted on an unsuspecting public. He lives alone, but is well known onthestreets for his vociferous ranting and railings against Stiverson andthosewho seek to subjugate those like himself, those who haven't the strengthorthe power to stand up to them. Then one day, in the dead of winter,Romulusemerges one morning from his cave and finds something in a tree justoutside. And what he finds sets him upon a quest that will prove toeveryone once and for all that he is not crazy, that Stiverson and theothers exist and are what he says they are, and if he is successful, hewillfinally have the proof. Now if he can but stave off his demons andmaintainlucidity long enough to do what he must do; he is adamant, but just as heisbeginning, `they' introduce their newest weapon which they wield in asoft,green light, the `Z-Rays.' Romulus, however, is frightened but notdeterred, and more determined than ever to expose Stiverson for what heis.<br><br>Kasi Lemmons, who made an auspicious directorial debut in 1997 with `Eve'sBayou,' presents this complex story with a stylistic and artistic touchthatat times evokes the spirit of Fellini (as with the `moth seraphs'sequenceswhich she uses to great effect). She quickly establishes the character ofRomulus and sets a pace that allows the mystery to escalate as the storyunfolds. Her approach succinctly captures the paranoid world inhabited byRomulus in his own mind, and she plays on his sudden erratic behavior andthe unexpected turn in the middle of a scene to build an underlyingtensionthat makes the drama all the more riveting. Most importantly, she managesto go beyond what is happening in the film to convey the true essence ofwhat this story is all about, with insight and an obvious and incisivegraspof human nature.<br><br>Samuel L. Jackson gives a dynamic performance as Romulus, who has atendency to lapse into quiet moments, but guards against them as if theywere a threat to his safety. Afraid to let his guard down, he fights hisfears with anger and bravura, but clearly that's not who this man reallyis,which Jackson communicates quite effectively. There's nothing feigned orpretentious about this character, and Jackson takes him from a rationalmoment into madness seamlessly, which adds to the credibility of not onlyRomulus, but the entire film. This is not a man to whom you will be abletorelate directly, but there are certainly elements of his situation towhichyou will readily be able to sympathize. Romulus is a thoroughly complexcharacter, and Jackson realizes those complexities with insight andrealism.<br><br>Also outstanding in one of the smaller, but pivotal supporting roles inAnthony Michael Hall as Bob, the bankruptcy lawyer who encounters Romulusand somewhat indirectly facilitates his mission. Hall has matured as anactor, and this is probably one of the best roles he's had since hisyouthful efforts in such films as `National Lampoon's Vacation,' and `TheBreakfast Club.' Ann Magnuson also gives a noteworthy performance asMoriaLeppenraub, the sister of artist David Leppenraub (Colm Feore), who issomething of a free spirit and becomes involved with Romulus when certaincircumstances lead him to David. Magnuson has a certain charismatic,Shirley MacLaine-like quality about her that makes her accessible and easyto watch, and she is very believable here as Moria.<br><br>Rounding out the supporting cast are Tamara Tunie (Shelia), Damir Andrei(Arnold), Aunjanue Ellis (Lulu), Peter MacNeill (Cork), Jay Rodan (Joey),Rodney Eastman (Matthew) and Kate McNeil (Betty). A thought provoking,emotionally involving film that is exceptionally well presented and acted,`The Caveman's Valentine' has something to say about the diversity of asociety in which everyone has a place, no matter what they may appear tobe,and the fact that absolutely no one should ever be dismissed out-of-hand.It says that there are no `throw-away' people; that the value of anindividual often cannot be measured until confronted with extraordinarycircumstances, for it is that which brings out the best and drives someonelike Romulus to exercise the latent capacity which lies within. One oflife's lessons, told here with a profound clarity by Lemmons, through amedium that is the magic of the movies. I rate this one9/10.<br><br>

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Reviewed by gdvibe 10/10

I picked this up in the video store not knowing what to expect and wasI pleasantly surprised. This film is a real work of art and works onmany levels. First, the direction is magnificent. Lemmons works magicblending reality with flashbacks, imaginings and fantasies. Weaving allthese together is a true feat. This is a film one could watch withoutthe sound just to appreciate the images.<br><br>Second, the arts that are portrayed are excellent, from the dancing tothe music to the photography. Lemmons has a fantastic arts sense.<br><br>Third, the performances. Jackson is magnificent. A musician who cannottake the pressure of his career and of the context in which he mustperform yet maintains his artistic sensibility. Like so many realpeople, his fears become externalized, but he still maintains a senseof his reality. And it is this sense which makes his character crediblewhen it comes to the plot.<br><br>The plot is a good mystery but would have been hackneyed in lesserhands. And the plot works on at least two levels. Romulus may be crazy,but he knows what is going on and the images of his wife beautifullyportrayed by Tamara Tunie keeps Romulus grounded. And since this is acharacter driven film, this conflict between Romulus's fears andfantasies with the realities he finds himself in, works beautifullythanks to Jackson's performance. On the second level the mystery quamystery also works well. There are enough confusions to keep the viewerguessing.<br><br>All in all a great film.

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