The Caveman's Valentine

A crime story with a twist: The homeless, paranoid schizophrenic squatting in a cave in NYC's Inwood Park isn't the victim or the killer — he's the detective. Romulus "Rom" Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson) was once a promising, Juilliard-trained musician. But madness drove him onto the streets, where he spends his days scavenging and ranting at "Stuyvesant,"...read more

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A crime story with a twist: The homeless, paranoid schizophrenic squatting in a cave in NYC's Inwood Park isn't the victim or the killer — he's the detective. Romulus "Rom" Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson) was once a promising, Juilliard-trained musician. But madness drove him onto the streets, where he spends his days scavenging and ranting at "Stuyvesant," the mysterious tormenter he's convinced is beaming damaging green rays at him from the Chrysler Building. So when Rom finds the frozen corpse of a street kid named Scotty (Sean MacMahon) in a tree outside his cave, his insistence that the young man was murdered falls on deaf ears. Even Rom's own daughter, policewoman Lulu (Aunjunue Ellis), doesn't believe him. In a moment of lucidity, Rom decides to investigate Scotty's death. After learning the boy had posed as a tormented angel for sinister art photographer David Leppenraub (Colm Feore), Rom realizes that if he can pretend to be the man he once was, he can infiltrate New York's art world elite. At a lethal disadvantage when it comes to playing cat-and-mouse with a killer, Rom nevertheless gets close enough to the truth to endanger himself and his estranged family. Adapted by George Dawes Green from his own novel and directed by actress-turned-writer/director Kasi Lemmons, this ambitious psychological thriller captures the heedless way a damaged outcast like Rom can be taken up by privileged New Yorkers and then cast aside when he stops being amusing. Jackson's performance helps paper over the plots' improbabilities, and the sequences involving the "moth seraphs" in Rom's head have a certain haunting beauty. But overall it's a frustratingly uneven movie, delicate at one moment and bluntly obvious the next. It doesn't really work as a thriller and with the exception of Rom and Leppenraub, the characters are too clichéd to make up for the story's weaknesses.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A crime story with a twist: The homeless, paranoid schizophrenic squatting in a cave in NYC's Inwood Park isn't the victim or the killer — he's the detective. Romulus "Rom" Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson) was once a promising, Juilliard-trained musician… (more)

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