“A US soldier suffers a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan and struggles to adjust to life back home.”

Director: Lila Neugebauer
Writers: Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel, Elizabeth Sanders
Staring: Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry
Rated: R
Release Date: November 4, 2022

Causeway (2022) is an A24 production that features a first time movie director and producer Lila Neugebauer, and first time writers Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel and Elizabeth Sanders. Despite the rookie tag on this quartet of talent individuals, the movie Causeway lands on the screen with a quiet, profound impact. The casting of Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry, in addition to the wonderfully simple story, elevates this movie to one of the best in 2022.

Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence) is an injured US soldier returning home after suffering a traumatic brain injury while serving in Afghanistan. She struggles with a return to normality, both mentally and physically. The driving force for her own self-betterment is a desire to be redeployed, even in her own mother and neurologist disagreed with her.

While Lyndsey is trying to recoup from her IED injuries, she meets a mechanic by the name of James (Brian Tyree Henry). The two start a friendship and start discovering more about one another. Lyndsey and James start to understand and trust each other more deeply. They begin sharing the dark memories from their past and reflect on one another.

The ending Causeway is not cathartic in that you know what happens to Lyndsey. Instead it ends with her opening a home to a new start. Causeway is not a story it its own, but rather the prologue for the rest of Lyndsey’s life.

Jennifer Lawrence as Lyndsey

Let’s not dance around it any more. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic in this movie. I just recently saw Winter’s Bone (2010) and was blown away by her in that. Causeway is a return to that sort of naked, ugly acting. By no means am I saying that Lawerence is ugly. I suppose what I am trying to say is that Lawerence is best in movies where she is not dolled up. Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook (2012), Mother! (2017), and Causeway (2022). Those are her four best acting performances and all of those movies involve someone being stripped down to nothing. Lawrence has talent for playing the down trodden looking to rebuild themselves.

One of Lawrence’s best scenes in Causeway comes when she tells Dr. Lucas (Stephen McKinley Henderson) about her accident. The candor that which she tells the story is haunting. The matter of factness is scary. It shows the way Lyndsey is. She can relive that moment and tell it that honestly because she is that steadfast on getting back out there. Her emotions are turned off, and that includes her empathy. That is where James comes in. He is the key that allowed her to open a new door.

Shout out Brian Tyree Henry. For one, I had no idea that he played a part in The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Secondly, I did not know that he had these kind of acting chops. The only other movie that I have seem featuring him was Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), and that role as a podcaster did not do him any favors.

Tyree Henry’s character opens a door to self-acceptance for Lyndsey in Causeway, and this movie in itself is going to open a new career pathway for Tyree Henry himself. This is a hell of a dramatic performance. James’s blow-up on Lyndsey after she kisses him because she “feels bad” is what every man who has been toyed with wants to say. He has this past that elicits a delicate balance of sorrow and frustration. His complexity means that he is a Jenga tower of emotions and in order to get to know him you have to be delicate. Lyndsey is not that type of person; she has plans, steps, actions and she acts. When she asks him if he had drinks prior to his life changing car crash…it is cringe worthy, but it in the right way. It is like watching a slow train wreck and her question was is unfortunate impact.

Brian Tyree Henry as James

I knew that Causeway was going to be a solid movie right from the opening shot. That shot of the car pulling up, and then the still low-level camera shot while Lyndsey is being wheel chaired away is still lodged in my head. Her body is completely still. The shot is still. Lila Neugebauer draws the audience in choosing this shot to be the opening shot.

I have one other question for Neugebauer and all the writers. Why did they make Lyndsey’s first job in her hometown cleaning pools? What is the symbolism of this? It is not done by accident. A choice like this is deliberate. Is it because Lyndsey is often looking at a self reflection of herself and trying to clean herself up while being drowned by her sense of duty to be redeployed?

Causeway is a fantastic story about self re-invention. It is the best telling of this internal struggle since The Sound Of Metal (2020). While The Sound Of Metal was loud at many points in telling the story of a newly deaf person, Causeway is quiet in the best ways possible. There is very little to no musical score in the movie. It is quiet and self-reflective. it is impossible for Causeway viewers to not think deeply on Lyndsey as a character and Jennifer Lawrence’s acting.

Simply put, Causeway is a damn good movie.

Causeway is streaming on Apple TV+.

STANKO RATING: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)

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