Jennifer Lawrence’s film Causeway made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Saturday and the actor revealed that leaving home at the age of 14 helped inform her character.
Lawrence plays Lynsey, who worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan until an explosion resulted in her suffering traumatic injury to her body and brain. Lynsey is returning home to New Orleans after her rehabilitation period, living with her mother (Linda Emond), who is loving but not the most present support for her daughter. But Lynsey is anxiously waiting for the the day that she can go back to Afghanistan.
Lynsey ends up meeting James, played by Brian Tyree Henry, a mechanic who agrees to fix her truck, marking the beginning of their friendship. James is dealing with wounds of his own, following a car accident in New Orleans that resulted in the loss of members of his family, and his leg.
Where Lynsey and James particularly connect is through their complicated relationship with the concept of "home," and what “home” really means for them, which was also a key connection point for Lawrence
“I felt something in my gut when I read this,” Lawrence said following the film’s premiere screening. “I identify with that feeling of trying to find your home, trying to find where you have a purpose.”
“I left home when I was 14 and my relationship with home has always been complicated.”
As Linda Emond identified, much of this film is about how each character is managing their respective wounds.
“I think that stuff is costing her life and has made it impossible for her to be either the mother, or to be able to deal with what has happened to her daughter and her son,” Emond said.
“We got to go back and kind of peel back the layers of who these characters were, and what their lives were,” Brian Tyree Henry added. “This man was born and raised in New Orleans, suffered the biggest tragedy of his life there, and his anger is there because of it.”
As the feature directorial debut for Lila Neugebauer, the filmmaker explained that it was important for her to consult with medical experts in the fields of traumatic brain injury and recovery, in addition to individuals at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System.
The beauty of Causeway is in the more subdued delivery Lawrence gives, and the, simply, human connection between Lynsey and James, and eventually Lynsey’s brother. There’s beauty in the story’s sensitivity through the 92 minute film.