• 19 Nov - 25 Nov, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

The best part of ‘Causeway’ is its actors and the bond that they share as characters unable to remove a traumatic past. Jennifer Lawrence brings her A game to this quiet, introspective, and heartfelt film. Brian Tyree Henry, a performer on the rise and known for his stand-out presence, compliments her performance with his controlled and honest part. ‘Causeway’ is a silent and subtle drama about finding hope and companionship over everything else.

Director Lila Neugebauer, who made her presence felt as an individual voice with the much-loved series ‘Maid’, delivers a character-centric story that is about many things but is primarily about finding oneself a friend. The premise by itself is not novel, but its treatment goes beyond the obvious, setting the tone for this story being built around the past and present experiences of its two lead characters.

An army veteran (Jennifer Lawrence) has come home and has been in rehab to overcome a brain injury that she got from an IED explosion in Afghanistan. Her recovery, involving the improvement of her basic motor functions and her ability to remember is strong, but her return to home is not easy. A bus ride home from rehab, where her undependable mother shows her callousness upon arrival, captures her vulnerable state of mind. Despite having almost died and having suffered critical injuries, her entire focus is on getting back on her feet and redeploying to the Army. For her home, in New Orleans, this translates to loneliness, a dreary job of cleaning pools of empty luxurious houses, an almost nonexistent relationship with her mother; and memories of a shared indifferent childhood with her addict brother. When she accidentally meets a mechanic (Brian Tyree Henry), they begin to bond. Henry’s character has lost a leg in a near-fatal car accident that involved the loss of a loved one, and his life turning topsy-turvy ever since.

While both come from difficult and traumatic pasts that cast a long shadow over their lives in the present, their approaches are different. Henry is more open, and friendly despite being guarded. Lawrence is almost entirely blocked up and in near denial, that returning to the military will bring huge risks to her well-being. New Orleans is home to Henry; a place he will never leave. His home is warm and welcoming, a place he invites her to share with him. Lawrence’s version of the city is sweaty, filled with empty homes and disappointing memories. Together, they fuse their stories, over languid conversations and share those thoughts that they have never been ready to accept or explore.

Rather than count upon dramatic high points, this film is about self-awareness. It’s about accepting what happened and about moving on to a better, happier future. As is the wont of the content on this streaming platform, creating a character with a speech challenge in an important, moving scene, also shows a commitment to inclusion, a welcome change for showbiz. This story is like a delicate sonata playing over the radio; it sucks you in while you go along for the ride and you root for the heroine to resolve her inner conflict. Lawrence is brilliant, reminiscent of her less-explored acting prowess. Henry is the right contrast to her personality. And the most winsome moments feature their natural, free-flowing conversations that lead to the film’s biggest revelations. The drama is in the emotions, not in tone or visuals, which are trademark traits of a confident filmmaker. ‘Causeway’ is a definite watch for those that enjoy human-drama-driven, poignant stories about true-to-life characters.