Today’s the day: it’s the evening of the 95th Academy Awards. Whilst ultimately awards ceremonies mean very little in the grand scheme of things, there’s no doubt that the majority of the general public still see the Oscars as the most prestigious film awards around. For me, I use these awards as film recommendations, and I have to say they’re often really, really good at putting forward some truly deserving nominees. Of course, some of the nominees I have yet to see or review here, but I’ll definitely continue to review those I see even after today.
Causeway will be the last nominated film I review before the ceremony itself, and it’s a really low-key, quiet film that actually only has one nomination. In it, Jennifer Lawrence headlines as a US soldier who has recently been discharged due to a traumatic brain injury that she incurred after an unexpected explosion. She returns to her home town of New Orleans as she begins her emotional and physical recovery, working as a pool cleaner in her spare time. When her truck breaks down, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a local mechanic (Brian Tyree Henry) and they quickly discover that they have a lot more in common than they’d have assumed.
Okay, Brian Tyree Henry. We see you. We really do.
Let me elaborate on that one. Yes, Lawrence is the supposed focal point of Causeway. She does a terrific job, which is to be expected from someone who regularly churns out some really realistic, deep and emotional performances. However, this is a real breakout performance from BTH. Yes, he’s brilliant in his more comedic and light-hearted roles, but this is the first time I’ve seen something so honest and truthful from him. And wow, he is so good at it. It’s really fun that the Academy Awards recognised his work in this film, because it’s a film that has heavily fallen under the radar.
On that note, Apple TV hosting a film like this is actually a nice change; it’s quiet, muted, and on a much smaller scale than their usual releases. Other than CODA, it’s difficult to think of anything they’ve done that is even vaguely similar to it. It’s all very nicely made – albeit very much standard in the way it’s put together – with quite a neat, indie vibe to it. The scriptwriting is seemingly based in realism and there are sweet moments to go along with the tougher ones… but it won’t exactly blow your socks off either.
The plot itself is generally what you’d expect too and not really anything you won’t have seen before. Perhaps Causeway’s most appreciative audience would be those people who have either served in the armed forces or have someone close to them who did. Since I have neither of those things, I thought it was just okay, as it feels like a character study that ultimately doesn’t go deep enough into the real life trauma that army veterans go through.
Overall, it’s not bad. It’s a nice, short film with good performances and good direction. But will I remember it by the end of 2023? Sadly not.
Causeway is currently available to stream on Apple TV+ in the UK.
TQR Category Ratings:
Costume & Set Design:
Overall Enjoyability Rating: ½