Film Review: Causeway – 7.5/10

‘Everybody is there just to be escaped from, just to be left behind, like they let you down instead of the other way around…’

Now that Jennifer Lawrence is a full-blown movie star, it’s easy to forget that she made her name in the small, character-driven indie Winter’s Bone. Ironically, it was her ability to convincingly play an ‘ordinary’ person that made her into the household name she is today. Since then, Lawrence has flitted between huge franchises and larger-than-life characters. Causeway offers the opportunity for Lawrence to go back to her roots and boy does she take it…

After suffering a serious brain injury in Afghanistan, US soldier Lynsey (Lawrence) struggles to adapt to life back home. A chance meeting with James (Brian Tyree Henry), a local mechanic, helps Lynsey to remember who she is.

From first-time director Lila Neugebauer and writing trio Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel and Elizabeth Sanders, Causeway is a quiet, understated film that focuses on character rather than plot. The relationship between Lynsey and James is both touching and convincing and Neugebauer resists the urge for sensationalism or sentimentality, instead allowing their relationship to grow organically. We learn about the two central characters in real time as both come to terms with their own personal trauma. Lawrence, who also serves as a producer on the film, is quietly excellent throughout and clearly enjoys the opportunity to be involved in a project that feels a little more personal and human than her usual fare and Tyree Henry continues his excellent work in projects as varied as Atalanta and Bullet Train with another confident and assured turn as a man just trying to get by. The key here is that both actors convince as everyday people.

Some will find Causeway too slow or too lacking in action. Me? I really enjoyed being part of this world and the undoubted ability of the two leads. A quietly excellent film.