Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Causeway, or: I’ll Stand Bayou

Ahead of the Oscars, we’re crossing off some of the nominees this January–along with a few films that failed to secure a nomination. Not for lack of trying in some cases. Always a promising sign when you have a young Oscar winner, a story of a soldier returning to civilian life, and critical reviews that praise the understated performances…much like this week’s pick.

The Film:



Lila Neugebauer

The Premise:

Struggling to return to life in New Orleans following a traumatic brain injury, a soldier focuses on being cleared for redeployment as quickly as possible.

The Ramble:

Following an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan, soldier Lynsey returns home with major trauma–physical, mental, and emotional. Her recovery is slow, as she is initially unable to walk, get dressed, or brush her teeth without assistance. On top of this, Lynsey has trouble with her memory, forgetting details from her childhood and having difficulty recalling new information.

Moving back in with her mother in New Orleans is…difficult. Lynsey’s mother was never the most responsible person, and her shortcomings seem even more glaringly obvious in the present. Telling herself it’s only short-term helps Lynsey cope; she’s determined to recover as quickly as possible for redeployment.

In the mean time, Lynsey finds work as a pool cleaner. As she’s dealing with an unreliable old truck to get around, she also makes friends with car mechanic James. A fellow born and raised New Orleanian, James has his own troubled past to contend with.

As Lynsey struggles to grapple with traumas both old and new, she becomes increasingly impatient to get the all-clear from a doctor for redeployment, despite the risk to her mental health in particular. But Lynsey’s narrow focus on this goal causes harm to those around her, especially James. Will Lynsey

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

As a slow-paced character study, this film is interested in examining the impacts of different types of trauma. It’s very much a showcase for Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry as our leads, who both do fantastic work.

Unfortunately, films where the performances are the focus aren’t always my jam. There’s not much happening in terms of plot, and some of the dramatic reveals are done in a way that I don’t find effective. What’s especially challenging about this as a character study is that our protagonists, given their trauma, are quite aloof. I don’t know that I empathized with the two as much as I expected to as I didn’t get to appreciate their inner workings. Particularly since James is such a good friend, while Lynsey seems to take him for granted, I found it difficult to invest in their friendship, which is very much at the core of the film.

The performances of our leads are compelling, though, and the film’s refusal to wrap things up neatly is appreciated.

Would my blog wife buy this one a sno-ball or leave it alone to clean rich people’s pools? Read her review to find out!