Causeway Review – Strong Performances, Heartfelt, Genuine

Causeway, from Apple Original Films and A24, brings to the screen a story of hope, and loss in an intimate portrait of a soldier struggling to adjust to her life after returning home to New Orleans.

The film opens with Lindsay, played by Jennifer Lawrence, meeting her caregiver, Sharon, played by Jayne Houdyshell. We understand as she is assisted by military personal that she was a former solider. Throughout this rehabilitation period, she is slowly regaining her ability to walk, and perform simple tasks like brushing her teeth, managing her daily hygiene, and attending to personal bathroom needs.

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We are with her as she visits the doctor, understanding the traumatic brain injury she suffered from an IED, may result in permanent damage. She struggles in rehabilitation. Soon, her time with Sharon is coming to an end and she will move back home to her home in New Orleans, until, as she explains, she can redeploy.

We understand immediately when she arrives at the bus station, that life, at home, her was one of the reasons she chose to leave. Her mother, Gloria, played by Linda Emond, didn't show up and she needed to make her way to her home alone. Even her house, which has not been painted in some time, shows the decay of the area. It is difficult to tell is it should have been white and was now grey or always grey, drab, and lonely.

For whatever reason, the house is empty, no one is home, there is no food in the refrigerator, and her room is filled with storage boxes. It is as if the message of her return was erased from her mom's memory. We find out later that there was confusion between the two over her arrival date and we are not sure who mixed up the dates. 

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With few options, she decides to find a job and ends up cleaning pools. Her job with the Army Corps of Engineers was building dams, so being near the water was welcoming. On the way home, her truck breaks down and instantly we understand the PTSD is still pressing, as she is immediately thrown off balance, mentally, and makes rash moves which put her in danger. She drives the steaming, overheated vehicle to the first car repair shop on the way.

This is where we meet James, played by Brian Tyree Henry. He explains as they are talking about the car that she can put his number in her phone and call in a day or two. This simple task, throws her, and she explains that she doesn't understand how.

As he is the only person she knows, besides her mother, and her goal is to get a medical wavier to redeploy, she asks him for his help which sets up a nice scene between the two. We begin to understand while they both appear normal, under the surface the wounds they hide, and carry, are deep and maybe irreparable.

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She slowly begins to physically recover. Her neurologist, Dr. Lucas, played by Stephen McKinley Henderson, explains that she needs to reiterate the incident that caused the TBI, to secure a medical wavier. She also explains she does not want to stay medicated for the rest of her life and wants to stop taking some of the cocktail of medications.

Throughout this time, she and James become closer, and she slowly persuades him to talk about his loss as he explains the sorrow, he carries which causes him to retreat, as exposing this inner part of began too much for him.

Causeway is a sleeper hit, which hasn't found its audience. The performances of Jennifer Lawrence and Brain Tyree Henry, who has received a Spirit Award nomination, are genuine and emotionally faithful to the story and character. The emotions they project transfer with authenticity, we mourn with them over their loss and can intimately understand them.

The screenplay is well written and layers multiple issues into the narrative including the struggles of veterans, and those among us, who suffer deeply in silence.

Causeway, an entertaining drama, with strong performances and a poignant and affecting storyline, is a must see.

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Country: U.S.

English: English.

Runtime: 92minutes.

Director: Lila Neugebauer.

Producer: Luke Goebel, Louise Lovegrove, Ottessa Moshfegh, Jeffrey Penman.

Writer: Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel, Elizabeth Sanders.

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry, Jayne Houdyshell, Neal Huff, Han Soto, Natalie Pilie, Linda Emond, Frederick Weller, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Will Pullen, Russell Harvard.

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