"Those people are not gonna be happy to see you"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Cavedweller has always been one of my favourite Dorothy Allison books, so I was really excited to view this movie adaptation staring Kyra Sedgwick, who also happens to be one of my favourite actresses. The results are sort of mixed; the film has some wonderful performances, especially by Sedgwick, but the writers seem to have done a slash and burn job on much of the story, because gone is most of the content that actually gave the novel its name.
The producers have obviously decided to concentrate much more on Delia Byrd's character and her reconcilement with her two estranged daughters, rather than also focusing on her children's cave dwelling exploits. This is perfectly fine, except that I can't help thinking that they may have done the novel, and by turns, Allison a slight disservice.
Kyra Sedgwick stars as Delia Byrd. As the film opens, Delia loses her errant rock-star husband, Randall (Kevin Bacon), in a car accident. Her daughter Cissy (a terrific Regan Arnold) unreasonably blames her mother for dad's death; her father meant absolutely everything to her. Emotionally fraught, and at-a-loss, Delia decides to take her angry, and heartbroken young daughter from Los Angeles back to her hometown in rural Georgia, where Delia left behind her two daughters and her abusive husband, Clint (Aidan Quinn)many years ago, to join Randall on the road. Delia's best friend Rosemary (singer Jill Scott), warns her against it, but Delia is determined to reclaim her daughters.
Upon arriving in Georgia, however, Delia finds that she is not remembered fondly. The townsfolk humiliate her by accusing her of abandoning her children. Her introverted grandfather (Myron Natwick) reluctantly takes her and Cissy in, but Delia soon learns that Clint is dying, and that her daughters, Amanda (Vanessa Zima) and Dede (April Mullen), are living with Clint's religiously conservative mother (Jackie Burroughs). She has no intention of letting the girls see Delia, but realizing he has wronged her, Clint, who is slowly fading, agrees to help Delia get custody of the girls, in exchange for her caring for him until he dies.
Delia gradually learns how to become a mother to her two daughters again, but things haven't turned out the way that she had hoped. She regularly seeks consolation with the local priest, and confides to him that her "daughters are still like strangers to her." She has found herself plunged into a totally foreign landscape, where she is forced to question her place in the world.
As Delia tries to cope with Clint's debilitating illness and the uneasy relationship that is forming with Amanda and Dede, she recalls with horror the terrible physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband. The priest even tells her that if she hadn't left him she would have died. In an attempting to reconnect with her older children, Delia must also face the demons of her past.
Cavedweller is certainly worth viewing for Sedgwick's totally affecting and moving performance. She manages to convey an astonishing mix of vulnerability and gutsyness as she refuses to be daunted in her quest to remake her relationship with her daughters. Regan Arnold is also good as Cissy, and her modern Southern Californian look - hip sunglasses and figure hugging outfits - juxtaposes nicely with the attire of her more sheltered and protected half-sisters.
It's just a pity that there fails to be an adequate resolution to the story. Much of the developing dynamics between the characters, especially between Delia's daughters, remain unanswered. Also, once Clint dies, the film just ends, and it remains unclear whether Delia will return to Los Angeles, taking all her children with her or stay in living in Georgia. However, despite the story's shortcomings there's still much to admire in this quiet little movie that explores how an independent, spirited woman is forced to confront and meet head-on a difficult turning point in her life. Mike Leonard April 05.
Were those twins?
C. CRADDOCK | Bakersfield | 04/09/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Cavedweller" had conflict and resolution--characters seeking redemption, revenge, reunion with lost children--but when the conflict was resolved it didn't amount to much. You're left feeling like the dog that chased the bus until it finally stopped. Now what? Like Peggy Lee you ask, "Is that all there is?"
The plot revolved around Delia Byrd's (Kyra Sedgwick) return from Los Angeles to a small town in the South where ten years prior she'd left an abusive husband, Clint Windsor (Aidan Quinn), and their two daughters, DeDe (April Mullen) and Amanda (Vanessa Zima) to run off with Randall Pritchard (Kevin Bacon), a rock star. Along with her emotional baggage Delia brings her other daughter from L.A., Cissy Pritchard (Regan Arnold), who spends her adolescent energy brooding about her dead dad and blaming Delia for everything. She has put her father on quite a pedestal--one that he deserves about as much as the blame she has placed on her mother. Regan Arnold played her role very well, and looked like she could very well have been the progeny of Randall and Delia--or Bacon and Sedgwick (since they are married in real life). Regan isn't, apparently--but she has that ring of authenticity. For someone with the names of not one but two actors who went on to be Republican governors of California she was surprisingly sympathetic.
There are lots of flashbacks in "Cavedweller." Returning to the town Delia grew up in, it seems like every place she goes triggers some memory--mostly of abuse by Clint and the reasons she left. The Texaco Station where Randall's tour bus broke down triggers memories of how she met him and their life on the road. Delia became a back up singer with the band. If you like flashbacks, then "Cavedweller" is your movie.
Sherilyn Fenn and Jill Scott are in it, but Fenn is used totally in an expository function, to fill in the story holes by telling instead of showing; and Jill Scott, same thing--but at least she gets to sing a little bit. She plays Rosemary, another back up singer from Randall's band, still friends with Delia, who drops in for a visit. She fills in a few plot holes and she is gone. However, there is one superlative scene with her and DeDe. Taking advantage of her newfound lax curfew DeDe arrives home in the early morning hours having spent the night with some boys in a pick up truck.
"Were those twins?" asks Rosemary in a voice intended to be an accusation but that comes off with just a twinge of envy as if that was one last item left unchecked on her bucket list from her own years of touring with a rock band. April Mullen's DeDe says not a word in response--but the smug smirk on her face? Priceless.
The story and setting--small Southern town plus rock band--seemed ripe with musical possibilities that were barely used. There was a scene where Granddaddy Byrd (Myron Natwick) spun his 45's on the porch for Cissy, and we get to hear "Why, Baby, Why?" by George Jones, but it was all too brief. One flashback showed Randall playing a country tune, demonstrating his familiarity with the genre; and there were other flashbacks where his hits were playing, or else they were sung by Delia, Rosemary, or her daughters. The music was good, but there could have been more of it--especially at the crossroads where country meets rock.
The final riddle is the title: "Cavedweller." I don't think anyone ever said it out loud, and I suppose it was intended to represent Clint, a primitive wife beating cave dweller. The only problem is the whole show down and confrontation with Clint fizzled out, it seemed like a mere afterthought, and a more appropriate title would have included all the myriad other things the movie was "about." What was it all about, Alfie? The fact that they settled on "Cavedweller" only shows that the film makers were as baffled as the audience (or that a lot of material was cut from the book by Dorothy Allison upon which the film was based, but they kept the title).
Singles (1992) .... Linda Powell
Born on the Fourth of July (1989) .... Donna, Ron's Girlfriend
Benny and Joon (1993) .... Benjamin 'Benny' Pearl
Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) .... Dez
Laurel Canyon (2002) .... Directed by
Twin Peaks - The Definitive Gold Box Edition (The Complete Series) .... Audrey Horne (30 episodes, 1990-1991)
Two Moon Junction (1988) .... April Delongpre
Wild Things (1998) .... Sgt. Ray Duquette
A Few Good Men (1992) .... Capt. Jack Ross
Footloose (1984) .... Ren McCormack