The new film ‘Causeway’ starring Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and while many of the new films screening in Toronto this year have touched on the theme of war trauma, ‘Causeway’ is one of the most unique in temperament. Causeway’ is one of the most unique.
The film follows Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman who suffers brain damage from a car bomb in Afghanistan and therefore has to return to the United States for treatment.
In terms of subject matter, this film and ‘The Hurt Locker’, ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ and other war films can be grouped together; but in terms of style, the film is more similar to the American independent films of the first decade of the 21st century.
At the beginning of the film, Lynsey is in such bad shape that she cannot even perform simple actions such as dressing and undressing and writing; but the film does not focus too much on her physical rehabilitation process, but rather on the long process of returning to her hometown and trying to regain control of her body and her life.
The film briefly mentions the geographic setting of the story, Lynsey’s hometown, New Orleans, a city that was also devastated.
Lawrence’s heroine continues her rehab process in her hometown by taking a job cleaning pools while she befriends James (Brian Tyree Henry) – a man who has been in a car accident and can’t get out of it.
The film depicts the heroine wandering around the decrepit fringes of New Orleans, her healing process, perhaps in contrast to the city’s healing process.
Many of the films talk about how American soldiers who have been to Afghanistan/Iraq keep wanting to go back to the battlefield after returning home, even after the physical and mental trauma – it seems to have become the only way for them to prove that they are still useful.
Lynsey in this film has a similar reaction, trying to repress the damage of the war with indifference, yet the film takes her to another level: her strained relationship with her mother, her deaf brother’s imprisonment for drug trafficking, and her relationship with her family seem to be the source of her physical and mental trauma.
The film as a whole maintains a naturalistic style, and the cinematography uses mostly natural light.
Jennifer Lawrence returns to independent film, and her naturalistic performance in this film matches the film’s minimalist style, almost reverting to ‘Winter’s Bone’, which brought her her first Oscar nomination.
‘Causeway’ will be available on Apple TV+ on November 4th of this year.