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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Causeway ***

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Edmond, Danny Wolohan

Director: Lila Neugebauer

Country: USA

In a film delayed by both a pandemic and a hurricane, Brian Tyree Henry (Bullet Train, If Beale Street Could Talk) has been Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actor in his role opposite Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook).

US soldier Lynsey (Lawrence) has reluctantly returned to her home in New Orleans following a brain injury caused by an explosion in Afghanistan. Living with her mother (Edmond), she is desperate to achieve a full bill of health to enable her return, but her progress is frustratingly slow, especially as she struggles with depression linked to trauma. She meets car mechanic James (Henry), who is struggling with his own trauma following an accident in which he lost both his nephew and his leg. The pair strike up an unlikely friendship, but while Lynsey is a lesbian and interested only platonically, James’ feelings are more complex.

An understated and nuanced drama about the effects of PTSD, Lawrence is utterly compelling in a restrained performance reminiscent of her breakthrough performance in Winter’s Bone. With incredible depth and tortured numbness, her reticent scramble through recovery is beautifully paired with Henry’s glib acceptance of the raw hand he’s been dealt. His is the more showy role, but Lawrence more than matches arresting performance.

Refreshingly brief in runtime, this comes at the cost of a narrative. Decidedly a character piece, there really isn’t much of a story to speak of, with both characters spending much of the film ruminating, reminiscing and slowly processing their pasts. Like a therapy session, it strictly follows a “tell not show” mantra, which fares well in Oscar-season but organically has a meagre audience of just a handful.

UK Release: Out now on VOD on Apple TV+, released by A24


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