• Jared Huizenga

‘Causeway’ is a Subtle Tale of Trauma and Healing

It seems that more often than not, movies about soldiers focus almost exclusively on their efforts and actions on the frontlines. It’s easier (and more marketable) to show their heroic actions on the battlefield than it is to show what happens when they return home. And if those struggles are depicted on the screen, it’s usually in the form of some big physical blowup or altercation.


‘Causeway,’ the latest joint effort between A24 and Apple Studios, takes a step away from those tried and tested tropes to show the battle that happens when a soldier comes home to heal.

 

Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Causeway,’ premiering November 4, 2022, on Apple TV+. (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.)

 

Jennifer Lawrence plays Lynsey, a soldier forced to return to her hometown to recover mentally, physically, and emotionally from injuries sustained in an IED attack in Afghanistan. With minimal support from her family, no old friends to speak of, no job, and still struggling from her traumatic accident, Lynsey struggles with her everyday life and accomplishing the things she needs to accomplish to be deemed fit to return to active duty.


Lynsey eventually takes a job cleaning pools. On her first day, her truck breaks down and she’s forced to pull into a garage where she meets James (Brian Tyree Henry), a fellow local who’s dealing with a traumatic past of his own.


The duo quickly strikes up a friendship, each working through their individual issues by having the ear of someone else that’s going through it. Their friendship, however, is not without its struggles, which should probably be expected when two reasonably “damaged” people are involved.

 

Brian Tyree Henry in "Causeway," premiering November 4, 2022, on Apple TV+. (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.)

 

If you come into ‘Causeway’ looking for excitement, you’re going to be disappointed. Rather than flashbacks, you get emotional monologues of the respective incidents that led Lynsey and James to this particular place and time; there are some intense conversations and disagreements, but no big, dramatic blowups; and there’s zero action throughout.


What you do have, however, is a thoughtful story from writers Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel, and Elizabeth Sanders that depicts the toll psychological damage can take on a person, regardless of where they’re at in their lives. Director Lila Neugebauer allows the story and the lead actors to bring these nuanced characters to life.


Since wrapping ‘The Hunger Game’ series, Lawrence hasn’t done much to remind you just how damn good she is at her craft. And while I didn’t dislike ‘Passengers,’ ‘Red Sparrow,’ and the latter X-Men movies as much as most people did, it was good to see her return to the form she showcased in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘American Hustle.’ She makes you feel sympathetic to Lynsey and what she’s going through, while also making you despise her a little because of some of the choices she makes. She’s a complex character who Lawrence brings to life.

 

Brian Tyree Henry and Jennifer Lawrence in "Causeway," premiering November 4, 2022, on Apple TV+. (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.)

 

The same can be said of Henry’s portrayal of James. James is seemingly more well-adjusted than Lynsey at this point, so he mostly offers her friendship and assistance, although his own demons poke their heads out at times. He’s a likeable and gregarious character, but you can also tell there’s much more going on below the surface; subtle and understated.


‘Causeway’ will not be for everyone. It’s slow, character driven, and feels longer than its 92-minute runtime … but not in a bad way. By the time the credits roll, you feel like you know these two characters and you’re rooting for them come out the other side.


★★★½ of ★★★★★