The Caveman's Valentine

Director: Kasi Lemmons
Screenwriters: George Dawes Green

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


Living in a cave at the edge of Manhattan, watching a television set that has no connections, muttering to himself as he sits in the freezing winter air, Romulus Ledbetter is a man with a very tenuous grasp on reality. Haunted by visions and messages sent to him by an all-controlling, yet unseen, evil force, he is the stereotype of the hairy, filthy, crazy street person tormented by demons and frightening to all around him. But Romulus Ledbetter harbors deep secrets of a very different past. A man who was once a brilliantly talented, Julliard-trained musician and devoted family man now struggles to survive the rigors of his daily life and the figments of his imagination.

Kasi Lemmons does a superb directing job in bringing the novel by George Dawes Green to the screen. It chronicles the tale of an unlikely hero, a paranoid schizophrenic who discovers a frozen corpse outside his cave and calls his long-estranged daughter, now a cop, who, along with the rest of the police, believes that the victim is merely another unfortunate transient. When Romulus insists otherwise, he finds he must overcome his madness and use his intuitive insights to try to solve the crime.

Centered around a wonderfully bravura performance by Samuel L. Jackson, Caveman's Valentine explores the thin line between artistic brilliance and madness, aesthetic achievement and exploitation. This finely crafted, neo-Gothic thriller is a mixture of disparate tones and sensibilities that determinedly forges a fascinating journey through the mysterious peaks and valleys of the mind.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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