March 27, 2023
Examination of the pavement - IGN

Examination of the pavement – IGN

Causeway premieres on Apple TV+ on November 4.

A film that works despite its aggressive simplicity, Lila Neugebauer’s Causeway follows American military technician Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence), who returns to New Orleans after her deployment to Afghanistan with a severe brain injury. While on the road to recovery (and desperate to recommit), she crosses paths with a local mechanic, James (Brian Tyree Henry), with whom she forms an unlikely and difficult friendship based on their pasts. mutually traumatizing.

Aesthetically, Causeway is simple – too simple at times – but its understated approach lends clarity of performance, even if it lacks clarity of information. Its puzzle pieces take far too long to fall into place for something so simple: a character piece about coming to terms with the past, and one that’s only 92 minutes long. However, the result is Lawrence’s best on-screen work in at least a decade. She goes against the overworked, raucous habits she formed with directors like David O. Russell (Joy, Silver Linings Playbook, american hustle) and recalls her more discreet and nuanced roles of years past, such as in Debra Granik winter bone – fittingly, his big breakthrough in awards season in 2010.

Written by Elizabeth Sanders, Luke Goebel and Ottessa Moshfegh, the film opens immediately after Lynsey returns. She is barely able to move and needs the help of a professional babysitter, Sharon (Jayne Houdyshell), an elderly woman who has seen people in Lynsey State before. However, their gentle dynamic as Lynsey relearns to walk, talk, and brush her teeth ends up being oddly superficial, as the timeline jumps multiple times in rapid succession, slumping her recovery, but not enough to feel like a prologue. (leave alone a montage). The film would be better served without this noncommittal 20-minute section, or perhaps with a shorter version, as little of Lynsey’s strenuous physical therapy ends up informing her eventual narrative, which only really begins when she returns to she. Childhood house. However, these initial scenes offer Lawrence the chance to live fully in Lynsey’s shoes. It’s like witnessing an actor’s process rather than a character’s journey, but what a process it is, for Lynsey’s stillness, silences and indignities force Lawrence to look within as ‘she envisions a future in which she may never feel complete.

Causeway is Neugebauer’s feature debut. She comes from the theater world and her camerawork has a sense of stillness reminiscent of the stage, but at first this observational quality ends up detracting more than revealing. It falls to Lawrence to tell the story of how Lynsey feels when she re-enters the spaces she grew up in. She erects conversational barriers between herself and her mother (Linda Emond) — a dynamic whose past complications are more teased and referenced than meaningfully explored — and she takes a job as a pool cleaner, which she considers as a temporary measure before returning to the Middle East. However, his path to doing so is largely in the background; it depends on the approval of her doctor (Stephen McKinley Henderson), but her appointments are broken up by long periods, during which there is little sense that she is working towards any particular physical or emotional goal. Coupled with the lack of noticeable storytelling stylizations – meaning anything that visually or aurally ties us to Lynsey’s perspective – the result is passivity, aside from the few moments when Lawrence creates intrigue with his posture or his listless expression, or even his slightly unsteady gait. The ground beneath her still seems uncertain, but that’s the only real uncertainty in the film when Lynsey returns home.

However, that slowly begins to change once her truck breaks down and she crosses paths with James. Small favors quickly become meeting places, which briefly become a testament that Lynsey quickly puts an end to, creating room for a blossoming friendship where these two protected people slowly begin to reveal vulnerable parts of themselves. This is where Neugebauer’s restraint comes in handy. Henry’s performance is equally restrained, since James has long buried his secrets and regrets under beer and a sympathetic facade (gosh, his laughter is contagious), but when it comes time to explore his home – and so, her shattered past – Neugebauer lets the walls and small details speak for themselves, as Lynsey and the camera absorb the carefully crafted environment and all of its dramatic implications.

Their dynamic isn’t bubbly or effervescent by any means, but they each come alive in their own way when they’re around each other, even if it’s for reasons as morbid as bonding with the most traumatic moments. each other and the burdens they each carry. There is also, unfortunately, a scatter in how this mutual understanding manifests – Lynsey gains a new perspective on her past and on her mother, but little is rooted in her time spent with James – and the more they reveal themselves about them. themselves, the more the film’s missed opportunities are revealed.

Lawrence’s performance is not just magnetic, but alchemical, creating textual gold out of otherwise boring scenes.

There are only a handful of times that Causeway aesthetically embodies Lynsey’s point of view. One is precisely a moment of sudden distress, accentuated by jerky sounds, when she is driving her truck. Another introduces the possibility of his PTSD showing up when filming a simple ride with a reduced shutter angle (resulting in a strobe effect, like the opening action scene of Saving Private Ryan). However, these flourishes are quickly forgotten despite the fact that Lynsey and James’ respective traumas occurred inside road vehicles, a commonality that Causeway fails to consider even though they spend most of the film to drive.

It’s one of many threads left hanging as Causeway heads to its tentative conclusion, in which the outcome doesn’t really matter, as only hints of a story have unfolded. Lynsey’s confrontation with her past has the finesse of a superhero TV show – that is, it contains clear dialogue about trauma, and nothing else – but even its darkest elements. abstract and most representative are made tangible by Lawrence. Her performance is not just magnetic, but alchemical, creating textual gold from scenes that would otherwise be boring as lead, thanks to some of the most measured and seductive work from any actress this year. With every tense move and hesitant interaction, Lynsey is fully formed, even if the film around her rarely feels more than half-baked.

#Examination #pavement #IGN

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