review for Cavedweller on AllMovie

Cavedweller (2004)
by Josh Ralske review

Lisa Cholodenko's Cavedweller is a creditable adaptation of author Dorothy Allison's work. It's another fine demonstration of Cholodenko's excellent work with actors and handling of tone, but the efficient script, by Anne Meredith, lacks the bracing edginess of Cholodenko's original screenplays. Sharply focused performances, particularly by Kyra Sedgwick as Delia and the electric young Regan Arnold as her angry urbanite daughter, Cissy, and the true grit of Allison's tale of pain and resilience keep the film from veering into Lifetime movie territory. The songs, by former Prince bandmate Wendy Melvoin, are pretty good, but an ethereally breathy vocal performance by Lisa Germano on the film's main theme puts across the wounded, slightly off-kilter tone of the work. Allison renders some of the characters less vibrant than Delia and her daughters. For example, Rosemary, played by R&B star Jill Scott, doesn't seem to have much going on beyond her relationship with Delia. The film lacks the acuity of complex characterization that distinguishes both High Art and Laurel Canyon, but it's still a potent, absorbing family drama that ends on a note of real emotional power.