CAUSEWAY: 3 ½ STARS. “beautifully performed, low-key character study.”
In the low-key drama “Causeway,” now streaming on Apple TV+, Jennifer Lawrence once again shows why she is one of her generation’s best actors. She delivers a performance driven by subtlety, without a hint of affectation.
Lawrence plays Lynsey, a young woman, born into poverty, who used the military to get away from a negligent mother (Linda Emond) and junkie brother (Russell Harvard). “Don’t turn into your Aunt Lesley. Or anyone from your father’s family. Or mine,” says her mom.
While serving in Afghanistan with the Army Core of Engineers she is badly injured in an IED blast.
Now, back at home, living in her New Orleans childhood home with her negligent mother, her road to recovery is paved with difficulty. She suffered a brain injury, is prone to anxiety attacks, and the daily rituals of her past life, like brushing her teeth, remain just out of reach.
She longs to get back to the army to escape the memories of the trauma of growing up as a bright young woman in a home marred by substance abuse. “I just have to get out of here,” she says. But before she can be redeployed, she takes a job cleaning pools. “It’s just temporary until I can go back,” she says.
The job brings her in contact with a lonely but kindhearted auto mechanic names James (the brilliant Brian Tyree Henry), who becomes the person who grounds her, while coping with his own demons.
“Causeway” is a movie about the healing power of friendship and choosing, as Armistead Maupin said, your logical, not biological family.
Director Lila Neugebauer, working on a heartfelt script by Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh and Elizabeth Sanders, has crafted a movie that defies the usual “coming home” drama in favor of a quiet, slice-of-life story that is actually a character study of broken people who find comfort in the company of one another.
Lynsey and James have a lovely, unspoken way of communicating. There’s no (well, very little) sexual tension, just deep affection and positive pal vibes. This is a story of broken people who form a platonic friendship because they enjoy one another’s company. They are open and raw with one another, because they understand the other’s pain and the link between trauma and depression.
“Causeway” is not so plot driven. It’s a slice of life; a beautifully performed, low-key character study of people coping with past trauma who find comfort in one another’s company.