Causeway is a 2022 American psychological drama film directed by Lila Neugebauer from a screenplay by Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel, and Elizabeth Sanders. The film follows a soldier who suffers a traumatic brain injury while deployed in Afghanistan and struggles to adjust to life back home. It stars Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry, alongside Linda Emond, Jayne Houdyshell, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Russell Harvard in supporting roles.
Causeway is your typical indie arthouse film. The pacing is slow, the performances are deliberate and the story-telling is ambiguous. The two key characters viz. Lynsey (Lawrence) and James (Henry) both suffer from PTSD. Lynsey suffered brain damage in an IED attack in Afghanistan and James lost his leg (and his young nephew) in a car accident on the causeway in New Orleans. Both become friends in random occurrences and get close despite neither being entirely truthful to the other concerning their traumatic events.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Lynsey perfectly i.e. in a perpetual daze. It seems like she is continually walking on eggshells, anticipating the next moment her body would fail her. She is hellbent on returning to Afghanistan, even though doing us might risk her health, both physical and mental. She shuts herself off from her concerned mother and it’s clear that she cannot wait to escape her home environment. She hints to her doctor that she has already suffered psychological trauma in her family life even before she ever left for the Middle East.
Now, the problem – or maybe the feature – of Causeway is that much of the plot is kept under wraps – with exposition kept to a minimum. Definitely all show and hardly any tell, except perhaps towards the end. Lynsey informs James that she is a lesbian but demonstrates that she is attracted to James, without confuses the latter, of course. Little doubt that her head is not screwed on right. James, for his part, is unwilling to commit to anything with Lynsey till he is clear about her intentions. Which is the cliff-hanger that the film ambiguously leaves us with. Hmmm.
Causeway is either a heartfelt human story or cynical Oscar-bait. Right now, the jury is out – decide for yourselves.
Watch Causeway on AppleTV+.
… still there’s more …