Jennifer Lawrence has returned to the screen in Causeway – cpn

Jennifer Lawrence has returned to the screen in Causeway, now streaming on Apple TV+. Lawrence plays a veteran recovering from an attack overseas. The film opens as she’s working with a specialist (Tony winner Jayne Houdyshell, doing great work in a small role) to recover basic capabilities so she can return to “regular life.” Once Lynsey (Lawrence) returns to her New Orleans home she has one clear goal in mind – return to active duty. Her mother (Tony nominee Linda Emond) spends her nights out drinking and forgets to pick Lynsey up when she arrives. There’s clearly a troubled history between them, but most of it is left unsaid – an ongoing tactic of the movie. Not wanting to be stuck at home, she gets a job cleaning pools.

When Lynsey’s truck has problems we meet the film’s most interesting character, a shop owner named James (Brian Tyree Henry)…

 

Both disillusioned by the world around them, they strike up a friendship. Their scenes together are the reason to see the movie. Henry reveals layers to his character in such a subtle way that the movie achieves solemn moments of reflection. The Tony and Emmy-nominated actor has shown great range in several roles recently, and he proves utterly compelling yet again.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film is as aimless as its characters. While this portrait of grief admirably doesn’t resort to cheap dramatics, the tone never varies enough from overwhelming sadness. While Henry is the standout, Lawrence is believably inside her deeply muted character. Given such a reserved protagonist, too many scenes tell us what we already know about Lynsey. Even when she has a chance to connect with her mother, the script leans back into the unspoken. Despite its short running time, Causeway drags.

Perhaps this story would have been a better fit for a one act play, focusing solely on the moments between the two central characters. These are the moments that resonate, but it won’t likely be enough for most viewers. It’s too bad, because Henry truly shines again. C-

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