When it premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, “Causeway” attracted plenty of attention for helping to relaunch Jennifer Lawrence’s acting career. By the actress’ own admission, she had begun to feel trapped by the big franchise roles that made her a superstar at such a young age. She sought a second act defined by smaller, more character-driven films like “Causeway,” which she also developed through her production company, Excellent Cadaver.
But any effect that “Causeway” had on Lawrence’s career arc is only a small part of the film’s impact. Telling the story of an Army Corps engineer who suffers a brain injury while serving in Afghanistan, the film has been praised by critics as one of the best films about traumatized veterans adapting to civilian life in recent memory.
At IndieWire’s Consider This Brunch, “Causeway” director Lila Neugebauer, producer Justine Ciarrocchi, composer Alex Somers, and production designer Jack Fisk participated in a panel moderated by IndieWire’s Marcus Jones.
“It had been a long time since we had seen Jen do something this intimate,” said Ciarrocchi, who worked as Lawrence’s assistant earlier in her career. “I’m sure most people who’ve seen the movie know that Brian is a revelation. They raised each other’s game; they connected to each other as people. I think it was a pretty singular experience for Jen having him as a scene partner. They got together during the pandemic when we shut down multiple times to discuss their characters and how they could improve their characters.”
A lived-in texture is something legendary production designer Jack Fisk was able to give the film. Fisk, the go-to production designer for David Lynch and Terrence Malick, apparently even worked his magic to convert a New Orleans landfill into an army base for “Causeway.”
Director Lila Neugebauer said, “I haven’t seen Jack in about three years. He’s taught me everything I know. He transformed a landfill in New Orleans into an army base. I remember him saying, ‘There’s the film on the page, the film of the shoot, and the film you edit.'”
Lawrence’s character escaped her fraught family life and toxic relationship with her mother by enlisting in the Army. “The fact that you would go to war to get away from your home is just shocking – and then go back.”
“Causeway” is directed by Lila Neugebauer and written by Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel, and Elizabeth Sanders. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond, Danny Wolohan, and Jayne Houdyshell.