Causeway is one of the most profound yet subtle movies you will see all year, highlighted by an acting showcase by Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry.
Causeway begins with the audience meeting Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence), who recently suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Afghanistan. She is moving into a home after being flown back to America, where a helper will get her back on her feet before she is released into the ‘real’ world. As each day passes, Lynsey starts to get better, but isn’t 100% healed. Regardless, she is forced to move out because of the cost of living. So, she heads to her home in New Orleans to move in with her mother.
When Lynsey departed the home, she told her helper that her Mom would pick her up from the bus stop. But we find out when Lynsey arrives that she lied to her Mom about the time and date of her return because she couldn’t rely on her mother. So we quickly discover that Lynsey has some past childhood trauma that motivates her to want to get out as soon as possible.
Due to this motivation, Lynsey finds a job working for a pool company where she will work to clean pools in the area. However, on her way home, her truck breaks down, and she brings it to a shop where we meet James (Brian Tyree Henry). James looks like any mechanic with his scruffy beard and uniform that is dirty, but one thing you notice is that he has a little bit of a limp. From this moment, they spark a friendship, which is more of a necessity at first for Lynsey as she tries to adapt to everyday life, especially now without a car.
As their friendship begins to flourish, we start to peel back layers within each of these characters that highlight that these are two very broken people trying to make it. First, you have James, who is trying to live with the fact that he got into a car accident that changed his life forever. Then, you have Lynsey struggling with a brain injury and childhood trauma that haunts her daily. So, these two people could use someone in their life to help deal with their shit.
One of the more profound things about this film was how subtle it was in the storytelling. You have a moment where Lynsey tells the story of what happened to her in Afghanistan. There are no flashbacks or war sequences, just Lynsey sharing exact details of what happened. It was one of the most gut-wrenching scenes I’ve seen all year. Filmmakers lose sight sometimes how a subtle gut punch can go a long way in the story.
Jennifer Lawrence gives the best performance of her career. You can tell this role was personal to her because you see so many small details within the character that she conveys, down to the simple things like how she walked, that moved me in a way that very few actresses are capable of doing. Lawrence delivers that monologue about what happened to Lynsey, which broke me. There is also a moment toward the movie’s end that I didn’t see coming that destroyed me.
Is there another actor in Hollywood that doesn’t get the love they deserve, like Brian Tyree Henry? I am trying to figure out what else this man can do to be on more people’s radars. He gives one of the most authentic human-like performances this year. James is a very broken man who is trying to live his life the best he can by just making do. He shows up, does his job, goes home, smokes a joint, drinks a beer, and passes out. He’s almost content with how he lives, making it so relatable. Henry can do it all, and I hope he gets rewarded for his work on this movie.
One of the other things I loved about this movie was director Lila Neugebauer’s use of the city of New Orleans. If you have ever been to New Orleans, you know it is a little rough around the edges, but it’s one of the most relaxed cities in the world. Neugebauer didn’t shy away from showing how authentic the city is. In the movie, Lynsey is walking the streets in the middle of the night. Nobody whistles, scares, or threatens her, but even more importantly, Lynsey walks without a care in the world. It was such a poignant moment.
Overall, Causeway is one of my favorite movies of the year, from the incredible score to damn-near perfect script to two of the best performances you will see this year. I hope everyone gets around to seeing this one because it’s a rewarding emotional journey.
Should be Considered: Best Original Score, Best Lead Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Brian Tyree Henry), Best Original Screenplay
Release Date: November 4, 2022
Where to Watch: Apple TV+; Select Theaters
Lives in Nashville
Favorite Director: Damien Chazelle