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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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CineHawk Review: “Causeway”


From director Lila Neugebauer and screenwriters Elizabeth Sanders, Ottessa Moshfegh and Luke Goebel, “Causeway” is a dramatic character study of a recently returned veteran struggling to reacclimate to civilian life while recovering from a traumatic brain injury. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond and Stephen McKinley Henderson. It is currently available to stream on Apple TV+.

Set in New Orleans, “Causeway” follows Lynsey, played by Lawrence, a U.S. soldier who served in the Army Corps of Engineers. After being caught in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion while serving in Afghanistan, she suffers a traumatic brain injury and is  medically discharged. As Lynsey struggles to recover, she reconnects with her estranged family and starts an unexpected friendship with an auto mechanic named James Aucoin, played by Henry.

For those looking for a break from the bombastic action and CGI spectacle that the film industry has become hyper focused on, “Causeway” is a perfect choice. Devoid of thrills and frills, director Neugebauer utilizes a refreshingly subdued approach that places verisimilitude and realism above all else. For example, Lynsey’s motor skills are a consistent struggle, as she can barely write her own name at the start of the story. Her trauma, both physical and mental, is realistic, vivid and played without any comedic exaggeration.

The lower energy of “Causeway” also perfectly harmonizes with the subtleties of the screenplay. Lynsey and James come from very different walks of life, and while occasionally used to create comedic contrast, their differences are never overplayed. Refreshingly, “Causeway” is able to (mostly) avoid the overdone “friendship-to-romance” trope. In fact, Lynsey casually reveals she is a lesbian and this is treated by the story as simply another part of her multifaceted identity. This same treatment is given to James’s status as an amputee, avoiding the pitfall of degrading or patronizing him for his disability.

Alongside these impressive elements are the performances of the lead cast. Lawrence and Henry are adept at weaving the physical and psychological traumas of their characters, using the faintest of facial expressions to convey so much more than dialogue could. As Lynsey’s kind but unreliable mother, played by Linda Emond, makes Gloria a flawed but all too familiar parental figure. And Henderson’s role as Dr. Lucas, while a little one-note, is a stable source of kindness and wisdom for the protagonist. The actors come together with the film’s other strengths to make “Causeway” a beautiful exploration of living with trauma, both physical and mental.

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