The Caveman's Valentine

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Caveman's Valentine Movie Poster Image
Complex and violent movie -- not for kids.
  • R
  • 2001
  • 105 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Violence

Lots of violence, including sadistic torturing, scary scenes of madness.

Sex

Sexual references and situations, including sado-masochism.

Language

Very strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, smoking, and drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has very violent images, including dead and mutilated bodies. Characters use very strong language, and there are heterosexual and homosexual references and situations, including a passionate sexual encounter between two people who hardly know each other.

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What's the story?

Once a brilliant musician and composer, Romulus (Samuel L. Jackson) now lives in a cave in the park. He is severely mentally ill. Images of giant moths and fears of an imaginary villain haunt him. But he still loves his wife Sheila (Tamara Tunie), who appears in hallucinations to give him advice, and his daughter Lulu (Aunjanue Ellis). On Valentine's Day, Romulus finds the dead body of a young man. The police think it was an accident. But Romulus believes it was murder. He wants to find the killer, even though he'll have to brave the real and imagined terrors of society's daily interactions. He begins to think that the murderer is David Leppenraub (Colm Feore), a photographer who specializes in homoerotic images of savaged and maimed angels. Aware that no one will believe him, Romulus sets out to prove Leppenraub is the killer.

Is it any good?

Jackson and director Kasi Lemmons deftly blend Romulus' internal and external worlds in THE CAVEMAN'S VALENTINE. Romulus' rational self is represented by imaginary conversations with his estranged wife (a beautiful performance by Tamara Tunie). Feore as Leppenraub and Anne Magnuson as his sister give multi- layered performances that lend weight and complexity to the story.

Romulus, like Leppenraub, is haunted by nightmare images and obsessions. For Romulus, though, they are madness. For Leppenraub, they are art. Romulus' fears make people feel discomfort and pity. Leppenraub's make people feel titillated and clever. Romulus must use his madness to understand the killer, but he must use the part of him that is not mad to put the pieces together and make sure that the killer gets caught.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mental illness and its causes and treatments. How can family members be supportive without being enablers? They may also want to talk about whether art like Leppenraub's could be a critical and popular success, as portrayed in the movie. Why would Moira react to Romulus the way she did? Why did Bob react the way he did, and was that right? What are some of the feelings that Lulu has about Romulus?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

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