Not packaged neatly in with a bow, or meant to provide a happy ending – Causeway is bringing attention to injuries and disabilities that many people may not be able to see or even acknowledge. The movie follows Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence), a former military engineer who has returned to the States from Afghanistan with a debilitating brain injury, as she reenters her life and tries to find her footing again.
Often considered an invisible disability, a traumatic brain injury or TBI, is not one that anyone can recognize just by appearance or by outward appearance. The movie shows just how this type of injury can impact someone’s life, both physically and mentally. It also shows the difficulty for the people around Lynsey to understand the impact it has on her, and how it doesn’t just go away after a little bit of time.
Lawrence really flexes her acting abilities in her portrayal of Lynsey. Not just the healing journey physically that takes place, but mentally and her struggle to find her place in the world again. It isn’t the often glossed-over and glamourized version of injury – before and immediately after and life after the fact. The movie focuses on the journey, not just often an inspirational story that usually makes the headline. It actually only shows part of the healing journey, and the hard parts – not hiding from them throughout the narrative. It takes time to sit with the injury, to show the different types of damage a TBI can have on a life, and doesn’t end with a happy ending. It shows these injuries are often lifelong, and ones that people still struggle with years later – and a struggle that a lot of people still have to live with daily.
A bit slow at times, Causeway isn’t a movie that will give you quick resolution. Instead, it sits with Lynsey, her struggles, and her life after her TBI. It shows the struggles that injuries like this often come with, the issues that can last for years after the fact, and the devastating effects that they can have for more than the person injured. It reflects on life, how it’s not always easy and as cut and dry. And doesn’t put it in a neat little box. It shows struggles that society often wants to ignore even exist, or refuses to help with. While heavy at times, Causeway has the potential to change how some viewers may see people with disabilities caused by service injuries.
Causeway is now streaming on Apple TV+.
In “Causeway,” the new drama directed by Lila Neugebauer, Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence plays Lynsey, a military engineer who has returned to the States from Afghanistan with a debilitating brain injury after an IED explosion.
It’s a painful and slow recovery as she relearns to walk and re-trains her memory, aided by a chatty but tender caretaker (Jayne Houdyshell). But when she returns home to New Orleans she has to face memories even more aching and formative than those she had in service: a reckoning with her childhood.
Staying with her mother (Linda Emond), with whom she shares a tense relationship, all Lynsey wants to do is return to her work as an engineer. Her doctor (Stephen McKinley Henderson) is wary, and so in the meantime, she gets a job cleaning pools. When her truck breaks down she meets James Aucoin (Brian Tyree Henry), who works at the auto repair shop and offers her a ride home. Slowly they start to rely on each other for company and solace. James, it turns out, is also suppressing his own past trauma.
These two damaged souls’ budding friendship forms the center and the heart of Neugebauer’s debut feature—a quiet but devastating, and ultimately uplifting, story about coming to terms and moving forward.
“Causeway” is directed by Lila Neugebauer (Broadway’s “The Waverly Gallery,” “Maid,” “The Last Thing He Told Me”) and written by Ottessa Moshfegh & Luke Goebel and Elizabeth Sanders. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence (“Don’t Look Up,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle”) and Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta,” “Bullet Train,” “If Beale Street Could Talk”). The film is produced by Lawrence and Justine Ciarrocchi. Neugebauer, Jacob Jaffke, Sophia Lin, Patricia Clarkson, Kirk Michael Fellows and Christopher J. Surgent serve as executive producers.