Plot: What’s it about?
Romulus Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson) used to be a master of the piano and found much success, but his mind broke under the intense pressure. He went from a prominent musician to a homeless man, who lives in a cave instead of a mansion. In fact, he has become part of New York City myth, all the locals call him The Caveman and while he is insane, he still makes for some interesting conversation at times. He believes a man named Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant lives in the top of the Chrysler Building and looks down upon him, trying to mold him into what he desires, just as he has everyone else. Romulus hears voices of all kinds and sees visions of all sorts, but one morning, he sees a terrible sight that he knows has to be real. A young man has been killed and propped in a tree near his cave, which disturbs him to no end. The police seem to think it was accident and refuse to look into it more, but Romulus is determined to uncover the truth, even if no one will believe him…
This movie made a quick run at the theaters and that’s a shame, as The Caveman’s Valentine is a taut thriller that’s well worth a look. Based on the superb novel of the same name by George Dawes Green, this flick offers a great premise, memorable performances, and excellent direction from Kasi Lemmons. I knew Lemmons was gifted, but she really takes her work to another level, I am very taken with her work, to be sure. She gives the picture a nice cohesive structure, even within Romulus’ mind and also moves it at a good pace, impressive work indeed. Samuel L. Jackson provides a great lead performance, while Anthony Michael Hall, Aunjanue Ellis, Colm Feore, and Anthony Michael Hall help round out the main cast, very loaded deck here. The screenplay is great also, so these actors have terrific material to work with and that’s vital, of course. I was very taken by The Caveman’s Valentine and if you’re a fan of suspense flicks, you should give it a spin also, especially in such a nice package from Universal.
The lead here is Samuel L. Jackson, who turns in a terrific performance, one that is much better than his usual work. Yes, he still shouts and rants in The Caveman’s Valentine, but he also shows his more subtle skills, which he hasn’t done much of lately. It’s good to see Jackson back in this form to be sure, especially in the slower moments, I think. He seems so much more skilled in this deep character, as opposed to his usual thin, overly aggressive roles. I like to see him in those kind of roles at times, but it’s also great to see him branch back out, to be sure. You can also see Jackson in such films as Rules of Engagement, The Red Violet, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Menace II Society, True Romance, and Pulp Fiction. The cast also includes Aunjanue Ellis (Men of Honor, A Map of the World), Colm Feore (The Insider, City of Angels), Peter MacNeill (Frequency, Simon Birch), and Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club, The Pirates of Silicon Valley).
Video: How does it look?
The Caveman’s Valentine is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is one tremendous presentation and if it weren’t for some edge enhancement, I’d give it the full five discs, but it still comes close to perfection. I was blown away by the sharpness here and visible detail, you can see everything you need to and then some, very impressive work indeed. The colors look bold and vivid, but never smear or bleed, while flesh tones are natural and warm, as intended. I found no errors with the contrast either, it remained stable and well balanced from start to finish. This is an excellent transfer and one that should please everyone, to be sure.
Audio: How does it sound?
I was very surprised by how immersive the audio for this film was in theaters, so I was happy to see dual 5.1 surround tracks in Dolby Digital and DTS included here. The experience in my home theater was superb with both tracks, tons of surround use and all in fine form, I was sucked in from the start with this one. A few scenes have more audio focus than others, but this whole film features great audio and these tracks make sure it all sounds terrific. The DTS option offers a slightly richer, more refined experience, but both are superb and make for a satisfying experience. The dialogue is crisp and clean at all times also, with no real problems to report. This disc also includes subtitles in English and French, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc isn’t loaded down with goodies, but it has some nice supplements included, to be sure. The usual talent files, production notes, and theatrical trailer are all present, but there’s even more tacked onto this release. You’ll find a selection of four deleted scenes and these are not fluff, they are substantial scenes, well served to be deleted ones, I think. The final extra is an audio commentary session with director Kasi Lemmons and editor Terilyn Shropshire, who provide a look behind the scenes of the picture. Lemmons talks more of the two, but both have many comments to offer and it makes for a most informative track, to be sure.