Director: Lila Neugebauer
Writer: Elizabeth Sanders, Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry
Causeway is the first film directed by Lila Neugebauer, who has previously directed TV and theatre productions. It also marks the first film released from production company Excellent Cadaver, which was founded by Jennifer Lawrence, who also stars in this film. Causeway is an emotional look into trauma and PTSD. Lawrence stars as Lynsey, a soldier who has returned home while recovering from an injury, seeking to be redeployed as soon as possible. While home, she meets James (Brian Tyree Henry), a mechanic who fixes her truck. The pair hit it off almost immediately, opening up about their lives and becoming close friends.
Trauma is at the heart and centre of this story. When the film starts Lynsey is unable to do anything by herself, slowly it’s revealed what actually happened in Afghanistan, but you get a good idea from the opening scenes. Likewise, James is struggling with his own past, where he was involved in a car crash where he lost his leg. Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry are both phenomenal in this film, both giving dedicated and emotional performances. The chemistry between their characters is evident from almost the first second they share the screen together, and you’re invested in their lives instantly. Every scene they share together is brilliant.
Even her home life is filled with trauma as she seeks to escape her home as soon as possible. Her mother is suffocating, constantly seeking for her daughter to spend time with her, until she has a better option. She’s always forgetting things, letting Lynsey down when she needs her the most. There’s a really brilliant scene where they start to bond, only for her mother to receive a phone call and leave Lynsey alone starring into nothingness.
The portrayal of PTSD is really well done, with small moments building up Lynsey’s anxiety, in a way that feels very tense and real. Things as simple as her truck not working, are ramped up as you feel everything that Lynsey is going through, which is just a testament to how great Lawrence is in the film. You want to spend more time with the characters. It also feels realistic with an ending that doesn’t answer absolutely everything. The story isn’t wrapped up in a nice bow, which leaves you wondering about how the future will play out.
Causeway is one of those special films that’s simply brilliant all the way through. The characters are incredibly well written and brought to life with outstanding performances. It’s tense, heart-breaking, and life affirming to watch. Simply a spellbinding film.
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