THE CAVEMAN'S VALENTINE
Visions of Murder
Release Date: March 02, 2001
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Colm Feore,
Ann Magnuson, Aunjanue Ellis,
Anthony Michael Hall, Jay
Rodan, & Rodney Eastman
Runtime: 105 minutes
Distributor: Universal Focus/Universal
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Danny DeVito, Michael
Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Elie
Samaha, & Andrew Stevens
Writer: George Dawes Green
Address Comments To:Stacey Snider, Chairman
Ron Meyer, President/COO
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
Samuel L. Jackson of RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and PULP FICTION delivers a powerful performance as Romulus Ledbetter, a Julliard trained classical musician caught on the sharp edge of genius and madness. Romulus now lives as an outcast in a cave in Central Park in Manhattan. He is haunted by delusions of a powerful adversary, Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant, who he believes malevolently charts his every move from atop the Chrysler Building. Romulus is also haunted by delusions of his estranged wife, Sheila, who appears as a critical muse from time to time. His daughter, Lulu, is a police officer torn apart by the madman her father has become but desperately wanting some kind of positive connection with him. Regrettably, however, her father’s madness has destroyed her trust in the poor man. Yet, a smidgen of sanity remains in Romulus. Whenever someone calls Romulus homeless, he replies, “I’m not homeless; I live in a cave.”
Romulus is drawn out of his insanity to track down the killer of a homosexual drifter, Scotty Gates, whose frozen corpse Romulus discovers in a tree outside his cave. The police and his daughter dismiss the transient’s death, but Ledbetter becomes convinced that Scotty was murdered by David Leppenraub, a prominent art photographer for whom the young man often posed as a model in sado-masochistic photos about transcending pain. Scotty’s homosexual lover, Matthew, another drifter, claims that Scotty told him that there’s a tape of David branding and torturing Scotty in one of his sicker photography sessions, but David denies it. Romulus finds that the trail leads to David’s sexy sister, Moira, who unwittingly knows more than she realizes. Alone with his voices and visions, Romulus must piece together the twisted puzzle, risking his life and the remaining shreds of his sanity to bring justice to another troubled soul.
THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE is an excellently crafted whodunnit that, nevertheless, contains some sleazy elements, including sexual immorality of various stripes along with some rough R-rated language. The movie’s romantic worldview also includes some humanist and demonic elements. For example, one of the visions haunting Romulus contains flying angels/demons in a vast cavern where he plays the piano. Also, one of the photographs that David made features a crucified angel. Coupled with these elements are some politically correct themes regarding homosexuality, race, homelessness, and the politics of envy. Taken separately, these politically correct elements are not very strong, but there are enough of them to give our readers a strong warning about them.
Some moral elements mitigate these bad ones. Thus, Romulus ultimately is correct in trying to find out who murdered the homosexual transient. Also, when Romulus sees some of David’s homoerotic, sado-masochistic photos, David asks him what he thinks about him and his paintings and Romulus answers, “Guilty.” Of course, the hero’s condemnation here, and the movie’s, should have been stronger. The strongest moral element, however, is the reconciliation that occurs between Romulus and his daughter. When Romulus finally solves the case, Lulu tells him in the movie’s last scene how proud she is of him. Thus, the movie ends on a redemptive note.
THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE is an excellently crafted whodunnit that, nevertheless, contains some very sleazy elements, including sexual immorality of various stripes along with some rough R-rated language. The movie’s romantic worldview also contains some humanist, demonic and more than a few brief politically correct elements. Some moral elements mitigate these bad ones. Also, the movie ends on a redemptive moral note, when Romulus and his daughter reconcile after Romulus solves the case.