Detached from the world misunderstood juilliard-trained genius romulus ledbetter finds a frozen corpse outside his manhattan cave. Determined to solve this heinous homicide he risks the remaining shreds of his sanity for t... more »he sake of justice. Can a man who no one believes prove a crime? Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 08/24/2004 Starring: Samuel L. Jackson Run time: 106 minutes Rating: R Director: Kasi Lemmons« less
Michel D. (michelann) from WALNUT GROVE, MO Reviewed on 6/30/2014...
Samuel L Jackson is brilliant in this fascinating story of an intelligent well educated man who finds himself living in a cave in the heart of New York City (within view of the Empire State building). His former life is far removed from his current circumstances and many are amazed at his expertise with playing piano or his knowledge of the world of music. This is not a slow dragging story but moves along quickly as Rom (Romulus Ledbetter) finds himself involved with murder and intrigue.
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An Underappreciated Award Winner
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) has honored actor Samuel Jackson, director Kasi Lemmons, and her sister, Dr. Cheryl Lemmons, the psychiatrist who served as a consultant to the movie, with its 2001 Outstanding Media Award for a dramatic motion picture---because of its portrayal of a homeless man with paranoid schizophrenia, who is both protagonist and hero. Jackson's character, Romulus Ledbetter, who solves a murder mystery, is a figure of intelligence, insight, talent and dignity, even as he experiences paranoid delusions and hallucinations (which he calls--correctly--"brain typhoons"). The Caveman defies the stereotypes and stigma usually associated with mental illness, and represents a major, cultural breakthrough for Hollywood. Viewers will come to know and like Romulus as an individual. There are many funny, ironic moments, but he and his illness never are used as the butt of jokes. The acting, direction and visual effects are superb, the mystery only so-so, but there IS a twist at the end. The realism also is greater than many may believe. Don't expect a big, wonderful, warm, happy ending. Romulus is a man whose spirit survives, and he prevails...but so does his illness."
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 12/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Caveman's Valentine (Kasi Lemmons, 2001)Lemmons, who gave us the well-above-average Eve's Bayou a few years back, helms George Dawes Green's adaptation of his own award-winning debut novel about a schizophrenic pianist, Romulus Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson), who wakes up one morning, walks out of his New York cave (yes, they do still have caves in New York, at least if you believe Green, and homeless people live in them), and discovers a frozen body in a tree. This may not be anything other than par for the course in winter in new York, but Ledbetter is convinced that the man's death is anything other than natural. Of course, Ledbetter is also convinced that the Chrysler building is inhabited by an evil overlord named Cornelius Beford Stuyvesant (groove on the name for a few minutes, if you're acquainted with the early history of NYC) who's out to kill him. So no one, least of all his daughter Lulu (Aunjanue Ellis, Cuba Gooding Jr.'s love interest in Men of Honor), wants to take him seriously. But Lulu, an NYC police officer, is a subordinate of the guy who ends up running the case. What's a girl to do? Add to this the fact that the dead guy's boyfriend, Matt (Rodney Eastman, of many indie films and a copule of Nightmare on Elm Street flicks-- he played Joey, the mute guy), DOES believe Ledbetter, and provides him with the name of the killer, interntionally-renowned photographer David Leppenraub (Colm Feore, who's been in most every movie made in the past decade). Ledbetter starts digging around to see whether there's a murder here to investigate, and, as we all know, complications ensue.The movie is cast perfectly, from Jackson all the way down to the relatively minor part played by an almost unrecognizable Anthony Michael Hall (who really does deserve a lot more high-profile roles; the guy is just plain good). The script is well-done and moves along at a proper pace, never letting the action drop even when exploring its various subplots. Okay, Leppenraub is a little too obviously modeled on Mapplethorpe, but we'll forgive Green since the rest of it's so well-done. But the key to the whole performance is Jackson himself, who gives a career-best performance as Ledbetter. Schizophrenia may never have been filmed as well as it is here. Rather than go for the Hollywood-style nutcase one normally associates with filmed depictions of schizophrenia, Lemmons and Jackson take the DSM-IIIR route and hand us a character who's, ironically, not as believable unless you've read a whole lot of scizophrenia case studies. Then you realize just how perfect a depiction this is, and your jaw hits the floor, both at Jackson's wonderful performance and the fact that Hollywood let this movie slip through the cracks.Very much worth going well out of your way to see, especially if you like Sam Jackson. Lots of interest from indie circles, too, as many indie-film darlings show up here. Hard to believe this movie got almost no press given the cast, but so it happened. Very highly recommended. ****"
Vahania63 | Michigan United States | 01/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I got this movie just because of Samuel Jackson. It turned out to be a great movie. On the one hand, it's a very decent thriller, on the other hand, it's a good psychological drama. The story of homeless man witnessing a murder is not the most original but the movie makes it fresh by very good character development. Having said this, the thriller part of the movie is not perfect. There are certain aspects of it that could be done better or plot sometimes could be more logical. But still the overall approach to the movie, its atmsosphere and great Samuel Jackson play make this movie worth watching."
Look out for those Z-Rays!
Wong Ee Lynn | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 10/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The title of the movie sounds puerile enough. Who and what is a caveman's Valentine, anyway? However, this movie is anything but facetious or shallow. Astounding in its depth and the manner in which it treats certain subjects with sensitivity, I would describe this movie, which is based on a novel of the same name by George Dawes Green, as nothing short of genius.
Romulus Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson) is a schizophrenic former musician who renounced middle-class life to live in a rocky enclosure in Manhattan's Inwood Park. One cold Valentine's Day, driven by voices and subliminal messages he finds on his TV set (That's the surreal bit: He gets to watch TV even though there's nothing in the cave for it to be plugged into), he ventures outside to find the dead body of 20-year-old Scotty Gales. Romulus believes this to be the work of an omniscient and evil mastermind by the name of Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant who happens to live in the Chrysler Building.
Romulus believes it to be his moral and divine duty to track down the murderer of Scotty Gales and thus his adventure begins.
We the audience are offered glimpses into the former life of Romulus; his musical education at Juilliard, his wife, his daughter now grown up and with the police force, and his decline into insanity. This movie deals sensitively with the issue of homelessness, mental illness and the emotional turmoil that families of the mentally ill go through. Romulus' family is torn between helping him and rejecting him for his non-acceptance of their lifestyle, values and middle-class sensibilities.
We catch glimpses too of Romulus' version of reality; of the voices and visions that haunt him, of the moth-seraphs that dwell in his head, of the manifestation of his wife, also his Muse, each time he sits before a piano and quakes. We see, in two scenes, his musical genius and his emotional involvement with his music.
As the plot thickens, we see that the main suspect is not the enigmatic Stuyvesant but an artist named David Leppenraub, who had used Scotty Gates as a nude model on several occasions. Romulus seeks to entrap and expose Leppenraub as the killer, but matters are not as simple as one thinks.
`The Caveman's Valentine' is a detective drama, a psychological thriller and a character study all rolled into one, and brought to a state of high polish by the efforts of Samuel L. Jackson and Kasi Lemmons.
No one could have made Romulus Ledbetter as real and alive as Samuel L. Jackson did. For his performance alone, I would rate the movie 5 stars out of 5. And Miss Kasi Lemmons? I'd give her a standing ovation for outstanding directorial work."