Jennifer Lawrence has been in four movies since 2017, so the once ubiquitous Oscar-nominated actress is getting more selective with her film roles, so now with each role the question becomes what made this project the one. Causeway is a fairly straightforward drama following Lynsey (Lawrence), a soldier who is recovering from her traumatic brain injury and ensuing memory loss. She’s stateside and living back in her hometown and trying to speed through physical therapy to re-enlist back to the life she knows but may not be equipped to handle. This is definitely a character piece but I don’t know if there’s enough interesting material here with these characters. Causeway is one of those indie dramas that lean into a lot of contemplative staring, which could be very meaningful if I felt like I had been given access to the characters internal dilemmas beyond a general assessment. Much of the movie follows Lynsey’s friendship with a local mechanic, James (Brian Tyree Henry), who has his own tragic past that he’s trying to come to terms with. The movie is at its best when they’re sharing time together and it begins to feel like an introspective hangout movie that will allow both of these people to let down their guards and develop. It moves in starts and stops but Causeway never feels like it gets anywhere fast or that transcendent. By the end, the journey doesn’t feel earned. Lawrence is good, though rather restrained, as the movie fills much of its time with her long pensive stares. There’s a movie here, for sure, but nobody feels in a hurry to uncover it. It’s a perfectly “nice movie” but one that underwhelms because it feels too afraid of pushing too hard or delving too far, for that would betray some artistic ode of “realism.” Causeway is a minimal, plaintive drama with much left unsaid, but what is said and honestly dealt with is compelling enough to make me wish I could trade in the many stares for more words spoken by these talented thespians.
Nate’s Grade: B-