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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: Causeway

A US soldier suffers a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan and struggles to adjust to life back home.

Jennifer Lawrence & Brian Tyree Henry

For its unexpected short runtime & issues tackled such as internet trauma and battling demons, I felt so relaxed during my watch of Causeway. Jennifer Lawrence is truly back with this subtly brilliant performance as Lynsey, a soldier dealing with brain injury from an explosion at war. Alongside the magnificent and also subtle, Brian Tyree Henry as James whom rather hides his trauma away with being alone and not having anyone to express it to. He’s trying to bury it under a lot of defence mechanisms.

As the performances were as expected, fantastic. I was taken aback by my personal standout, which was the sound design. Just like the camera, we are sat amongst these characters as if we are friends, who want to help but can’t. The performances are never exaggerated, nor do we get any outbursts whatsoever from any character. It’s quiet. It’s a contrast with the trauma of both characters. It’s internal screaming & shouting, not external. Which comes to the sound, which just like the performances, it’s quiet. It’s hypnotic with how beautifully layered it is with the sounds of everything around them, I couldn’t not feel engrossed by each conversion because I believed it to be real. That’s all we want from a film. To believe it.

Of course, the gorgeous cinematography complements the beauty of the sound. As previously mentioned, the camera is sat alongside them, occasionally bobbing up and down. It sways almost, like the waters that Lynsey is surrounded by. The water conflicts with the inner flames of her trauma. It understands when to hold onto frames, allow the audience to collect the information given to us in subtle hints from the actors. Brian very rarely moves his eyes, I noticed they’re either closed or focused, as if he’s trying to look past something. Which is exactly what he’s internally doing. Jennifer appears to be always thinking as Lynsey, it is glaringly obvious that Jennifer understands her characters and is consumed by them, their pain, trauma. With such a huge name such as hers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only seeing the actress. She’s one of the biggest actresses in the world, yet, she’s sat here beside the pool as a character in a small budget A24 picture. Each film she demands the audience to know, she means business and she understands the importance of character.

As much as the shorter runtime is appreciated, I would have loved a lot more exploration with these characters. While I’m unsure on what we should uncover next, I was definitely left with a sort of dissatisfaction with how some story threads ended. I felt so engrossed in the story and characters, it’s hard to not feel as though the film could have spent more time with them. As well as a tougher emotional core, I kept waiting to be hit with a bag of emotions. I left understanding, rather than embracing.

All in all, Causeway was another massive win for Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry, providing us with one of the more subtle performances of the year, ones I do believe may be overlooked. It’s quiet, yet speaks volumes. It’s trauma told right.

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