Billed as a Jennifer Lawrence comeback vehicle (her last leading role was Red Sparrow in 2018), this is a quiet, reflective role about a former soldier dealing with PTSD. There is a lot of that going on as her character Lynsey has a lot to ponder about her family and what she wants to do next as she’s recovering. While she’s back home in New Orleans, she befriends an auto repair shop owner James (Brian Tyree Henry).
I like the tentative friendship between them and it’s easy to see why they’re drawn to each other. I’ve been a longtime fan of Henry who’s such a versatile actor he ought to get more leading roles. Lawrence has screen charisma and I like seeing her quieter side here, though her character isn’t easy to warm up to at first.
I do appreciate that we’re spared flashbacks of Lynsey’s military deployment to Afghanistan that caused her PTSD, but we do get the extent of her injury. Meanwhile, details about James’ life unfold slowly but it’s quite predictable. I knew exactly what had happened to him before he shares it with Lynsey.
Though most of the film focuses on Lynsey and James, SPOILER ALERT the scene between Lynsey and her brother Justin (Russell Harvard) towards the end is quite moving and provides an unexpected sense of hope and redemption for her.
The moody cinematography and naturalistic acting style help relay the story of two people bonding over past trauma. The pace is deliberately slow, and I don’t mind it if the script is gripping enough. I wouldn’t say that’s the case here so it feels rather sluggish and heavy-handed at times. The ending feels rather anticlimactic, perhaps by design, but ultimately I find the whole thing wanting and not as profound as it wants to be.
That said, it’s still a pretty impressive feature film debut, so I’m curious what Neugebauer would do next.
Speaking of feature debuts, if you’re looking for a good character-study film about a female veteran dealing with PTSD, I highly recommend Blood Stripe which was shot in Minnesota and won an award for Best Narrative Feature at Austin Film Festival.
Causeway is now streaming on AppleTV Plus
Have you seen Causeway? I’d love to hear what you think!