Reviewed byjhcluesVote: 9/10/10
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reviewed byimp-6Vote: 9/10/10
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.
Reviewed bymario_cVote: 8/10/10
It's a very nice film with a suspenseful and mysterious plot about aninsane homeless man (who once was a talented piano player) which solvedby himself a crime scene. The plot starts being very strange andpuzzling, because we watch the happenings through the insane guy'smind, and everything seems to be a bit confusing. However, that's thebest part of the movie to me! It's mysterious, unexplained, bizarre andhas some strange scenes (which pass only inside his mind) of puredelusion, and shot in dark and surreal way. Great cinematography, Imust say! The acting is also brilliant, especially by Samuel L.Jackson, who plays the insane guy, ROMULUS LEDBETTER. He's an excellentactor and one more time he proves it, as a great part of this film isjust his acting work! The film has a great soundtrack as well! I hadn'theard of this movie so far so it was a very good surprise to me.
Romulus is mentally ill, a troglodyte in a New York City park. He's also a gifted composer and the father of a city cop. On Valentine's Day, a young man freezes in a tree near his cave. The police determine it's the accidental death of someone behaving bizarrely, but Romulus believes a friend of the dead youth who says that noted avant-garde photographer, David Leppenraub, murdered him. Romulus, urged on by hallucinations of his wife as a young woman, resolves to catch the killer and manages to be invited to Leppenraub's farm to play a new composition. Can Romulus hold it together long enough to get to the bottom of the death and also to make a breakthrough with his daughter?