Austin Film Festival 2022: CAUSEWAY

Jennifer Lawrence’s career may have begun in independent cinema, but after receiving universal acclaim for her breakthrough role in Winter’s Bone, her career was launched into stardom. Well, after working on various, high-profile, sometimes big budget projects, Lawrence has decided to take a beat and return to her roots. Her latest performance is in a film titled Causeway, and this movie is so far removed from the worlds of the X-Men, The Hunger Games, or even the worlds depicted by David O. Russell. It is actually refreshing to see Jennifer Lawrence perform in something smaller, more intimate, and especially more demanding from an actor’s soul.

However, Lawrence obviously doesn’t deserve all the credit for Causeway. Writers Elizabeth Sanders, Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshgegh, director Lila Neugebauer and actor Brian Tyree Henry all contribute wonderfully to this impressive movie. Lawrence stars as Lynsey, a United States soldier who, while serving in Afghanistan, suffers a nearly-debilitating head injury and must recover and heal in more ways than one. After going through physical/occupational therapy, Lynsie decides to return to her home town.

There she attempts to reacquaint herself with her mother Gloria (Linda Edmond), but returning to her roots proves to be problematic as it brings back too many traumatic memories from her past. Feeling like she has no where else to go, she hopes to rehabilitate herself further so that she can get cleared to return to millitary duty. While working on herself, both physically and mentally, she befriends a local by the name of James (Henry). In James she finds a kindred spirit, as he has incurred some physical and psychological trauma of his own.

Causeway is Lila Neugebauer’s feature film debut and it is an impressive one at that. The filmmaker has already had a celebrated career as a theater director, and she brings a lot of those sensibilities to her movie. This is a film that is driven mostly by dialogue. And I can totally see this movie adapted for the stage. Still, as movie director Neugebauer definitely shows proficiency and much promise for projects that are different from that of the theater. Her confidence as a filmmaker are certainly on display here and she knows how to make her scenes work beautifully and effectively.

The other stars of the show include the writers who have done solid work in developing the story and characters. Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry are both exceptional in the movie and share a beautiful chemisty, but they also have such great material as the source of their cinema magic. Causeway is already playing in some theaters, but is also available on Apple TV+ on November 4.

Leave a comment