Causeway is a quietly effective independent film about trauma and healing. Jennifer Lawrence makes a welcome return to her indie roots and gives her most understated and nuanced performance since Winter’s Bone while Bryan Tyree Henry (who has been soooo good in supporting roles in films like If Beale Street Could Talk) shines in the co-lead role with all the grit and grace you always knew he had.
The film follows Lawrence, a vet home from Afghanistan after suffering a traumatic brain injury, as she recovers while staying at her childhood home with her caring but aloof mother. When her truck breaks down, she makes an unlikely connection with Henry’s character, the owner of the repair shop.
Director Lila Neugebauer crafts the film in a lean, no-nonsense manner with clean POV shots and subtle use of montages (punctuated by the understated score) with simple symbolism such as the monotonous passage of time cleaning rich people’s pools, the water Lawrence carefully treads with the skimmer symbolic of the fractured relationships she unconsciously wishes would heal and fill the holes in her heart. The writers do a great job revealing the details of the characters’ trauma slowly, naturally, through casual conversation over drinks or weed or listless musing that quietly builds to a bubbling over of emotions.
The city of New Orleans, rife with a history of communal traumas and so often battered and bruised yet ever resilient. serves as a perfect backdrop for the characters wrestling with their paths to healing.
Causeway is currently streaming on Apple TV.