Pain Of The Past And Present Are At The Forefront Of ‘Causeway’ – Film Review

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Director Lila Neugebaur’s film Causeway sees Academy Award Winner Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Lynsey, who, having spent time serving in the US Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan, is now back in the States after sustaining a brain injury in the line of duty. One day, while travelling to a site, her convoy was blown up, causing a severe hemorrhage. 

Upon arriving home, she must participate in mandatory rehab to relearn basic, everyday tasks like writing her name, brushing her teeth, walking, and driving a car. She also suffers from memory gaps and insomnia and prefers to stay isolated. “Transitioning can be hard,” she’s told, but it isn’t in Lynsey’s nature to keep people close or ask for help. 

Eventually, she moves back home to live with her mother (Linda Emond), even though they don’t get along well. She also meets James (Brian Tyree Henry), a down-to-earth mechanic who has gone through similar experiences. But for Lynsey, everything is temporary; she plans to return to the army once she recovers, much to the disappointment and shock of those around her. She wants to escape, but will her doctors, the world, and her mind, let her? 

Causeway is classified as a psychological drama, and it is Jennifer Lawrence that is tasked with carrying the weight of the expectations that come with a psychological drama. She admirably carries the heaviness of Neugebaur’s story beautifully. The entire film is sad yet necessary to tell. Lawrence’s performance bridges that chasm between healthy and unhealthy, a divide that’s both extremely thin and extremely frightening. Her facial expressions and body language are wonderfully expressive, and it’s always refreshing to see her on our screens. 


Each subsequent scene is filled with plain colours – blue, gray, brown, and white- an aesthetic that contributes to creating and preserving such a raw, sombre tone. When this isn’t showcased, we’re immersed in shadow, a choice that visually mirrors how Lynsey appears on the outside (reserved, introspective) versus how she is on the inside (hurting, deeply so). 

The only other main character we’re introduced to – because even though Lynsey’s mother makes several appearances, she is primarily discussed by Lynsey as opposed to making an in-person appearance – is James. He is a steady presence, grounding Lynsey, sympathizing with her, and helping her reconnect with ordinary life. His character’s calmness and kind mannerisms stand out even though they shouldn’t go due to the horrible truth that it’s hard to find people who are kind in a world that breeds cruelty, both abroad and domestically, visible and invisible. 

Moments of stillness are one of the defining features of this film. It allows us, arguably even forces us, to fully realize those times of pain Lynsey repeatedly feels. This naturally bleeds into the conversation surrounding mental health, asking questions like how we view our own trauma compared to how others do. 

“I’m okay” and “I’m sorry” are four simple yet powerful words that function as a double heartbeat for Neugebauer’s piece. Healing and caring for ourselves is hard. We want to be okay, but we need time and patience to get there, and in order to do that, we must start by apologizing to and forgiving others but, more importantly, to ourselves. 

At 1 hour and 35 minutes, Causeway gives us a snapshot into the life of a single person, a story that reminds us that no matter how “normal” someone might seem at first glance, we all have our own houses we’re struggling to leave, to pack our bags and never look back at. 

But, despite all that, we can begin again.

By Kacy Hogg 

Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, CinderellaCaptain America: The Winter SoldierThe Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95

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