Sunday, June 16, 2024

“Causeway”: a new Oscar for Jennifer Lawrence?

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Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence), a young soldier, returns from Afghanistan after suffering a head injury. After months of rehabilitation, she is told that she will now have to return to her family in New Orleans. In this city and this house where she only has the feeling of being a foreigner, her only idea is to leave again, to return to serve her country.

Without ties, she will meet a mechanic, James (Brian Tyree Henry), with whom she will befriend and try to rebuild herself.


A veteran injured physically and even more psychologically, here is already on paper a role which smells good of the Oscar. You still have to know how to interpret it. The already Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence (The good side of things) therefore had to not disappoint. His sensitive and minimalist interpretation largely lives up to expectations. Lawrence plays with all his interiority to restore without pathos the pangs of post-traumatic syndrome and the distress to which his character refuses to give in.

His partner, Brian Tyree Henry, is no exception. The two performers compete in talent under the direction of Lila Neugebauer, and Henry would almost overshadow the star of the film. He shows himself, in front of his partner, stunningly natural and finds a way to impose himself gently.

The performance of the two is indeed the cement of this first film by Lila Neugebauer. Already acclaimed on Broadway, the director uses very “theatrical” principles in this feature film to portray this scenario which, as she confided in our pages last Saturday, gave her a “very strong impression of [se] recognize in this material. His camera, which is not very mobile, prefers to let the characters evolve (or not) as they please in space and instead places the viewer as a discreet observer. The spectacular and ostentatious camera movements? Very little for Neugebauer. Everything is done to highlight the acting of the actors. Even the music prefers to stay in the background.

The humanist tact of Neugebauer

The lens, meanwhile, remained captive to the gaze of Jennifer Lawrence, fascinated by the distress that her eyes are trying to hold back. The star is almost naked, without make-up or artifice and can only count on the talent of the director of photography, Diego Garcia, to highlight her features and expressions. The result is freshly restrained and is not without evoking, without comparing them for all that, De rouille et d’os by Jacques Audiard who also told us about the reconstruction of a wounded woman through a new encounter.

Modesty is a key word in Causeway. In the cinema, the subjects of post-traumatic syndrome and disability are too often magnets to all excesses. Excess of dramatization, pathos, moralization, tears, clichés, etc. So many pitfalls that the director manages to avoid in a staging that is a pleasure to see. Neugebauer demonstrates a humanistic and benevolent tact in this matter. We only see the power of the demons with which her characters struggle when they are ready to give themselves up to the director’s camera and not a minute before.

We can criticize this psychological drama, which is mainly based on the acting of its actors, for pulling the thread of the contemplative camera a little too much to the point of slowing down the pace of the story, however short for a drama of this type.

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