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Laramie Movie Scope: Causeway

Running to war, and running away from home

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 19, 2023 – Playing such popular characters as Mistique in the X-Man movies, or Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games movies, you tend to forget what a great dramatic actress Jennifer Lawrence is, but she gets to show off her acting chops in a big way in this moody psychological drama.

I first noticed Lawrence in “Winter's Bone” (2010) where she plays a tough, independent character like this one. She has gone on to big time fame and fortune since then, but here, she takes on another tough role in a similar kind of movie, “Causeway,” streaming on Apple TV+ and, as usual, she nails it.

Here, Lawrence plays Lynsey, a wounded war veteran who is determined to get back into the military. After suffering brain damage from an explosion, she spends time in a halfway house run by a wise, kind old widow, Sharon (Jayne Houdyshell of “Little Women”). Sharon is dismayed when she learns that Lynsey wants to back into military service. She warns Lynsey that she is not near ready to do that. Lynsey suffers from panic attacks and lacks focus at times.

After leaving Sharon's care, Lynsey returns home to New Orleans, where her mother, Gloria (Linda Emond of “Gemini Man”) still lives. She gets a job cleaning swimming pools and gets exercise equipment to get herself back in shape. She makes friends with James Aucoin (Brian Tyree Henry of “Bullet Train”) the owner of a repair shop where she leaves her mother's truck for repairs.

She and James start spending more time together and start to become close, despite their differences, Lynsey being a white lesbian and James being a black man with a tragic past. Lynsey's condition is improving, but she is still not cleared for a return to military duty.

Dr. Lucas (Stephen McKinley Henderson of “Fences”) Lynsey's neurologist, won't clear her for military duty, or take her off her medications for fear of the consequences. He tells her “extreme trauma is linked to PTSD and depression.” He tells her that if he did what she asked, “You'd be at high risk of seizure, anxiety, withdrawal and depression.”

While Lynsey ignores her own psychological problems, James begins to see them clearly. He comes to understand that Lynsey is trying very hard to get away from her mother and brother, Justin (Russell Harvard of “There Will Be Blood”). When Lynsey and James get into a big argument it causes her to understand that she is on a self-destructive course that is also hurting her family.

As noted above, Lawrence gives a great performance in this film as a flawed character. Brian Tyree Henry gives an equally good performance as another flawed character. Their chemistry in the many scenes they play together is very strong. Director Lila Neugebauer makes a great feature film debut with this film. The screenplay, by Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel and Elizabeth Sanders, is powerful. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2023 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]