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CAUSEWAY movie review

ByTaylor T Carlson

Oct 28, 2022

CAUSEWAY is directed by Lila Neugebauer. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry.

Lynsey is a soldier in the military who has been sent back to her hometown following brain injuries sustained during an incursion in Afghanistan. Struggling to adjust in many respects, she finds herself distant from her estranged mother and befriending a mechanic, while taking on a part-time job. Wanting to return to the front, which is the only place she truly feels at home, Lynsey struggles to get her doctor’s bill of approval to return to military service. Will she get her wish?

CAUSEWAY is an interesting character study and a definite showcase for Jennifer Lawrence, taking on a demanding role but largely rising to the occasion, with the primary supporting part from Brian Tyree Henry also being a delight. It presents a gritty down-to-earth picture of urban life while at the same time showing the struggles soldiers deal with in returning to civilian life. Its pacing is perfect; not too long or too short in any regard. It suffers only from a lack of any substantial dramatic events and the necessary “flashback” sequences a tale like this requires, though the outcome is still largely positive and another triumph from A24.

The brightest shining light in CAUSEWAY is the performance from Jennifer Lawrence. She’s certainly come a long way from X-MEN and THE HUNGER GAMES (not that she wasn’t fantastic in those roles as well), taking on increasingly demanding roles. With her natural beauty, she’s the last person I’d expect to play a solider suffering from a traumatic brain injury, but she makes this role her own, and handles it exceptionally well. Going from suffering so much she needs help in assisted living to coming into her own independently and interacting with old and new acquaintances alike, it’s certainly interesting to see her go from one scene to the next. As a character study, CAUSEWAY knows its subject well.

The supporting cast primarily features Brian Tyree Henry, the mechanic with whom Lynsey finds an unexpected kindred spirit. Sharing similar yet different pasts and demons, the two play off of each other well, making for some interesting scenes as plot developments present themselves. The supporting cast also includes a doctor, an estranged mother, and an even further estranged brother. Though many of the supporting cast outside of Henry and underdeveloped and underused, each is cast perfectly and fills their role well.

It’s also a beautifully filmed movie, taking place in Louisiana in gritty, urban neighborhoods (thank you to the filmmakers for not setting this in Los Angeles or New York City, like every other movie ever made)! It does a great job conveying mood via these settings, and it feels very much like a lived-in and believable setting, and certainly not something on a Hollywood backlot.

There are, unfortunately, a few elements that prevent the movie from reaching its maximum potential. The biggest issue with the movie is that, put simply, nothing happens. It’s largely a slice-of-life experience (which isn’t a bad thing), but there are no serious dramatic events or tragedies to enhance or add to the story. Literally the most heated moment in the movie (which is about a war veteran, no less) is an intense verbal argument. Despite all the dramatic beats CAUSEWAY hits, one can’t help but feel like something’s missing.

The other issue is that Lynsey’s war experiences are told to the audience, rather than shown. A few war flashbacks to her struggles and the battles that brought her her injury, simple and brief as they may have been, could have greatly enhanced the effectiveness and the intensity of the final product. Having these stories told to us rather than actually shown (possibly as flashbacks she had, maybe in dreams) would’ve been largely beneficial.

While CAUSEWAY doesn’t quite take home the Medal of Honor, it’s at least worthy of an honorable discharge. It’s lacking in a few areas, but the setting combined with Lawrence and Henry’s performance makes it a mostly memorable experience. Modestly recommended.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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