Review by Dan Skip Allen
Willow was a fantasy-adventure movie made by Lucasfilm and directed by Ron Howard, not George Lucas or Stephen Spielberg, which in this era of Lucasfilm was a surprise. The Star Wars and Indiana Jones films were a part of the bedrock of this studio. Willow, on the other hand, was a fun movie with breakout performances from Val Kilmer and its title actor Warwick Davis. It brought me and others my age to a place and time like no other. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, I had no idea we would return to the magical world of Willow. I'm very glad we are in the form of a Disney+ Series.
Willow follows a group of unlikely heroes on a journey across many lands to find a young prince kidnapped by the evil Croan, the leader of a band of malformed men. She wants to bring darkness to the land. Kit (Ruby Cruz) is a princess with a fighting spirit, Jade (Erin Kellyman) is her trusted friend and companion, Dove (Ellie Bamber) is a kitchen hand with a secret, and a few others are led by Willow Ufgood (Warrick Davis). Together, this band of misfits goes on a paralysis mission.
I never knew I would ever get another trip to the wonderful world George Lucas and Ron Howard created all those years ago, but I have. The episodes I have seen so far were enough for me to be fully invested in this show. It has gotten off to a good start. A series like this needs to hook those watching it, and this one did that in two different ways. The first is by giving some backstory between the film and the new series, and the other is by creating a new adventure I can get behind involving some new and exciting characters.
With a series like Willow or any fantasy adventure film or television series, you have to have a beautiful world to create if you are the showrunner or filmmaker. The writer must expand on the mythos of the world in which the show or film exists. In this case, the writer and creator of the series, Jonathan Kasden, has added new threats to these characters and tried to expand on this wonderful world created by Lucas and Howard. The show was filmed in Wales, adding an element of beauty to a series that already has enough going for it.
The character development in the series so far is excellent. Focusing on the woman in the show, the creator Kasdan wants to convey female empowerment. That sort of thing is going around a lot in Hollywood these days. These three female leads have shown a lot of panache and spunk, making them all very interesting to follow in the series. Each of their arcs will be different, but it will be fascinating to see where they lead. They all have different journey's that they are on while all still being part of a fellowship together.
In an era of reboots and sequels, Lucasfilm under Disney hasn't had the best track record. A few Star Wars films and streaming series have been good, but not all of them. From what I've seen, Willow is headed in a positive direction. With Kasdan, the son of legendary filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan, at the helm, this show is in the right hands. With Warrick Davis returning, it seems like he has gotten invested in this series from the start. That's a good sign.
Willow is now streaming on Disney+. New episodes air subsequent Wednesdays. Three out of eight episodes reviewed.
CRIME SCENE: THE TEXAS KILLING FIELDS -- A Raw and Visceral Retelling of a Series of Murders in Texas
Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Texas Killing Fields was a 2011 film based on a series of murders over several years in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. It had a great cast, including Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Jeffery Dean Morgan, and was directed by Ami Canaan Mann. The documentary series, Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields, 11 years later from Netflix, is based on the same story as the film.
In the 1980s and '90s, a series of murders started happening in Texas around Calder Road Field, which is adjacent to the I45 corridors, which has become known as the Texas Killing Fields. When a fourth body is found, people become concerned that this is a deprived serial killer. Police in League City, Texas are baffled by this series of murders. This was preceded by a series of killings in the 1970s in the same area. How could all this be just a coincidence?
It features various people involved in the murders. One of them is a parent of one of the dead girls, Tim Miller, and there are multiple other talking heads. It also features reenactments, archival footage, and narration over the film. It's the type of extensive docu-series for which Netflix has become known lately. Reporters and writers are also interviewed to give some substance to this story.
Various suspects are brought up by people who live in the area and have studied the series of murders. The FBI profiled the case, and they came up with their own killer. Everybody started to get worried because their suspicions were wrong. Forensics at this time weren't at today's level, so things didn't go as well as they had hoped once the profile was sent down.
These shows are always interesting because if you live in a different part of the country or were born years after a certain event or series of events, you might not know about them. These docu-series are very informative to people who aren't involved or don't know about the events in the story beforehand. I am always fascinated by these investigative series. It's just tragic that this type of thing keeps happening in this country.
The director of the series, Jessica Dimmock, an Emmy award winner for her work on the New York Times Presents series The Weekly, directs and executive produces The Texas Killing Fields. Joe Berlinger, the director of The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel and The Times Square Killer, also executive produces the new season alongside Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Production Company.
Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields is the third in a series of documentaries that have dealt with the disappearance, death, and or sexual assault of women. All the various talking heads from victims, parents, reporters, and police officers add to the horror of this story. The directors and producers do a great job using everything at their disposal to tell this story in an impactful, harrowing way.
Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields streams on Netflix beginning November 29. All three episodes reviewed.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Glass Onion is the newest entry in the Knives Out universe that Rian Johnson has set up. There will be at least one more film after this one in the universe. This time, the film is a Netflix production and once again written/directed by Rian Johnson. Instead of a New England house, it's set on an island off the coast of Greece, but again, we follow Daniel Craig as the Kentucky fried detective Benoit Blanc.
Even though the setting of the film is on an island off the coast of Greece, it starts with a handful of characters who get an invitation to go to this island in the form of a mystery box, which takes some figuring out by this handful of characters including Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), and Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.). Once they get to the island, they realize they have been invited to solve the murder of their friend, tech inventor Miles Bron (Edward Norton). The problem is Blanc is there as well, and Norton's character doesn't know how he got an invitation to the murder mystery party.
Glass Onion is the title of the film, but it has a more significant meaning in the context of the movie. It is a building that is created by Norton's character. It plays a big part in the story in a very rewarding way. Like an onion, this story has many layers, and as it unfolds, more and more of the story is uncovered. This is a perfect metaphor for this film. And murder mysteries as a whole. It was a very thought-out title and a way to explain the depth and layers of this story. Johnson deserves a lot of credit for that.
He also deserves credit for the performances he got out of his actors. Even though the dialogue was very dense and layered, it was delivered equally with a great sense of humor and a serious tone. There is a lot of inside baseball information regarding the friendship between these people. That all needed a lot of explaining, so it took the brunt of the first act. The rest of the movie deals with the mystery of how this is acted out and explained by Blanc. It's pretty funny how he gets to his conclusion.
A character familiar to the group from their past is Andi Brand (Jenelle Monae). She was intimately connected to Norton's character. It was just a surprise she showed up for their annual summer gathering. They wonder what her motivations for being there are, and they are a little suspicious of her arrival on this beautiful island. Her connection to Norton's character isn't in question, though. Craig's Blanc is a little more involved than anyone knows. His being on the island isn't a coincidence. Monae is fantastic as this woman with a secret, and her secret is the key to the whole story and film. It's brilliantly executed by everybody, including her and Craig.
There is an aspect of this movie that is like winking at the audience watching it, Where the viewer knows it's a wild scenario, but we still want to know what is actually going on and what happened in the end. In a way, it's making fun of murder mysteries, whereas Knives Out seemed more of a genuine murder mystery. There is a tongue-in-cheek concept going on. And the actors play along very well but also seem to be in on the joke.
The craft of this movie is top-notch. The camera work looks phenomenal, having seen the film on the big screen. That's a plus. Though a little comical, the performances are pretty good, except for Jenelle Monae and Daniel Craig, who are great. The writing and direction are very good, with the camera work as a strength overall. This is a worthy successor to Knives Out, and this world of Benoit Blanc is growing little by little.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery hits theaters on November 22 and streams on Netflix beginning December 21.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend is another origin story of a businessman who created an empire, but his drive to succeed got him into trouble with his family and his rivals. I'll be honest — I didn't know much about the man behind the great car manufacturer, Ferruccio Lamborghini (Frank Grillo), but when I finished the film, I understood who he was and his drive to succeed against all odds. He was a man who wanted to succeed despite the cost to those around him.
Ferruccio Lamborghini as a young man, was a farmer like his father. He longed for more, though. He had a lot of ideas in his mind regarding motors and building things people needed. With this ability to tinker, he got a friend to help him develop a new kind of tractor. This tractor is lighter and sturdier and can go a lot further on a tank of gas, revolutionizing farming. They get rich on this device, but this isn't enough for him. He wants more and tries to compete with Enzo Ferrari (Gabriel Byrne) by creating a better and faster race car.
Like many successful men, Lamborghini neglects his family and loved ones. He feels his success allows him to do what he wants regarding his private life. He sleeps around and ignores his son and current wife after his first wife, whom he loved dearly, died in childbirth. His rivalry with Ferrari clouds his judgment and makes him push everybody away, even his friends. This man has tunnel vision regarding his drive to be better than everybody he believes is in his way. This is a dangerous lifestyle if it doesn't succeed.
The director chooses to go into a few different aspects of this movie to make it not a standard biopic. The first is a framing device of a race between the two car magnet owners in their respective cars to prove who is the best. The other two are that the film is split into three segments depicting the life of Lamborghini and his friends and family. Set in the '60s in Italy and a couple of decades later. These directorial and script tricks are typically useful in movies. This time they were for not. This movie just didn't work all the way around.
Frank Grillo lucked into acting when he was offered to be the trainer on Warrior. The director liked him so much that they offered him one of the film's supporting roles as an MMA trainer. This led to bigger and better roles in the MCU as Crossbones. He is usually good as an occasional hitman or stunt driver, but he seemed out of place in this role. He just didn't come across right to me as this farmer-turned-car manufacturer. His line delivery is slow and clunky, and out of depth. It's sad because I wanted to see him in a starring role like this.
As a biopic, it just doesn't work, either. The movie's length seems like a red flag that something is wrong with this production. It was a very short film considering everything the filmmakers tried to cram into it. The script and acting from all seem a bit dumbed down to me. It looked like this movie was meant to be something bigger but ended up being a badly edited-down version of what they initially wanted it to be: an engaging story about a man who had nothing and made himself into something.
Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend isn't a good biopic, and it's not a good film in general. The director Robert Moresco tried a few tricks with the narrative that didn't work in the end. Grill as a leading man was a mistake as well. This didn't seem like the version of the movie that was supposed to come out. It is a shadow of what it should have been. The length and all the editing are disguising something that wasn't on the screen, but I can't put my finger on it. Just skip this biopic and watch some other fall films instead.
Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend hits theaters and VOD on November 18.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Films about journalism are some of my favorite movies. All the President's Men and Spotlight are two of my favorite films of all time. They just get the right vibe for this genre of film. The performances in both movies are amazing, and the topics that are talked about mean a lot to me and a lot of others. She Said is a very similar style of film but falls very far from the tree, considering the high standards it had to live up to.
Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) are two investigative reporters for the New York Times. They are both mothers and wives. Their careers are foremost in their lives, though. When they get accolades for exposing Donald Trump for sexist activity regarding his pageants, next on their radar is Harvey Weinstein. They go full bore towards taking this Hollywood producer down.
This subject matter is very important. It is the first step in exposing sexual assault in the workplace by many people. This story breaks the ice on this type of crime. The film does everything it can to convince the audience of how powerful this is. The problem is the filmmaker and writer don't do enough to make this story come across on film as well as they should. The acting by the two stars isn't that good. They aren't taking this role to the limit as they should. I don't take these two characters seriously while watching them.
The investigative work done by them is very good. The questioning of potential contacts regarding the article they are planning to write is done superbly. That said, the film is disjointed in how it presents all the evidence gathering and so forth. There are some very good performances of women willing to go on the record to expose Weinstein and men like him. Jennifer Ehle and Emily Morton are very believable as women who Weinstein victimized. Their stories come across strongly in the narrative of the movie.
The film is set in New York but also in other locations like San Francisco and England/Ireland. The film's lifeblood is The New York Times office. The floor has a lot of activity, and the various offices and rooms they use to film many meetings between reporters and editors and people being interviewed are filmed beautifully by Natasha Braier. Braier is one of many women who have worked on this movie that is — I'm sure — very important to them regarding the subject matter depicted.
Rebecca Lenkiewicz wrote the screenplay based on the reporting of Kantor, Twohey, and Rebecca Corbitt. Understandably, the studio, producers, and director wanted to assemble a team of women to work on this movie who may have had a vested interest in it. The problem is they may not have been the best people for this project. That includes the main actresses. There was just a disconnection from the creative side to the finished project that bothered me. Some things didn't work in the context of the overall story and execution of the said story.
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan are two outstanding actresses, and Mulligan, in particular, is coming off an Oscar nomination with Promising Young Woman. They just didn't have a good day at work, as far as I'm concerned. They didn't come across as well on screen as these two women. These performances should be very powerful, but they seem out of place in this movie. I don't know how all the behind-the-scenes stuff works regarding how actresses get cast in specific films, but I think the casting director could have found more committed actresses for the roles, or the director could have tried to get better takes in some of these scenes.
She Said lacks empathy for the victims of Weinstein, and the film has a disconnection regarding how this movie is brought to the screen. The performance of the two starring actresses is on par with that fact. A couple of supporting performances bring emotion where it is needed, but it's not enough to get this story to where it needed to go. I didn't feel like I should have while watching this story unfold. That was an unfortunate circumstance. Viewers needed to have a hatred for this man who was accused and eventually convicted of these crimes. And that didn't happen for me. The #MeToo movement came out of this article and changed how the workplace is handled from this day forward. This movie didn't do anything to help that movement from where I'm sitting. It is unfortunate because this should have been handled better all the way around.
She Said screened as part of the 2022 Miami Film Festival GEMS program, which runs November 3-10.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Family dramas are an interesting subsection of films in the drama genre. Most family films are considered comedies or children's films. This time out, Noah Baumbach — not usually a director who does sci-fi or fantasy films — changes direction. He mixes sci-fi fantasy with a family drama, and I think it gets lost in translation because all I could say when I walked off the theater was, "What the heck was that?" I think he needs to stick to his strength of comedy/drama films dealing with the family dynamic in a grounded way. White Noise was a mess.
Jack Gladney (Adam Driver) is a professor of Nazi history at a local community college in his town. He lives an idyllic life with his wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig), and their kids. When a train wreck occurs on the outskirts of town, sending a massive black plume of smoke up in the air, he has to evacuate his entire family. This throws their seemingly happy lives into chaos, alongside his co-workers and the rest of the townspeople. This isn't the norm for this little town.
Baumbach has crafted a different kind of film. This family sci-fi film has a unique sense of comedy, but all the elements didn't come together completely. Add in some action sequences, a la Christmas Vacation or The Mitchells vs. the Machines, and you have a quirky, weird family film. Baumbach also wrote the screenplay, so he has nobody to blame for the oddness of this movie but himself. A few things made this movie a halfway decent watch, though.
The cinematography by Lol Crawley was gorgeous. An unmistakable grain and eighties style made it stand out among so many normal-looking films. The color palette was a conscious choice by the production designer, filled with colors from oranges to reds and purples that made it look vibrant despite the graininess. Along with the cinematography in the movie were the costumes and hairstyling and makeup. This made these characters look the part of a suburban family with a station wagon for a family car.
Baumbach wanted to channel so many other movies with a similar vibe, but he fell short of that goal. There is a subplot involving the main character's wife that is just so incomprehensible it's funny. It is not supposed to be funny, but you just can't help but laugh during these scenes because it's so bad. The banter between the two characters is ridiculous. The script is all over the place, though, so that's par for the course of this movie. Baumbach's usual quirky or odd banter is just a bunch of gibberish here.
The cast is pretty good, but Driver and Gerwig can't save this film. The rest of the cast includes Don Cheadle as another professor at the community college, a friend of Driver's character. They have some good scenes together, including a debate about Elvis's mother and Hitler's mother. The actors that play the kids are fine as well. They're not too annoying as far as kids go. Jodie Turner-Smith is completely wasted as a science professor.
White Noise is a film that wants to say something about the world we have been living in for the last few years, but instead, it is an incomprehensible mess. Stars like Driver and Gerwig can't save this family drama that also wants to be a sci-fi film. In the end, it doesn't know what it wants to be. The look of the movie, namely the cinematography, is one of the most redeeming qualities, along with the costumes and hairstyling and makeup departments — they are superb. Baumbach wanted to channel family films like Christmas Vacation and The Mitchells vs. Machines, but it didn't come close to these films. It just ends up as a mess of a movie with no real direction.
White Noise screened as part of the 2022 Miami Film Festival GEMS program, which runs November 3-10.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
There are many things about Say Hey, Willie Mays! that can also be said about his baseball career. He is considered one of the best of all time. I would say the title of the best of all time goes to Ted Williams but it all depends on who you talk to regarding who is actually the best of all time. His record and stats speak for themselves.
Willie wasn't an outspoken guy, but when he had to step up in Alabama on the Black Barrons or when he was with the Giants in New York and later San Francisco, he became the unspoken leader of the teams. He mostly let his bat, glove, and legs do the talking for him. That is all he needed to get the respect he deserved, especially since Brooklyn/Los Angeles, the Dodgers got Jackie Robinson. He had to show the fans he was as good, if not better, than Robinson. The two teams were huge rivals and often met for the National League Pennant. That fueled their rivalry quite a bit.
Even though Willie was a great player on the field, his business off the field was kept relatively quiet. He kept to himself in his lovely home overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. When he wanted to do charitable things, he often kept them to himself or signed autographs and took pictures with the youths around the ballpark before games. This wasn't enough for the country at large, though, because the Black community was going through segregation and race wars. Celebrities like Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and other activists wanted Willie to get involved, but that wasn't his bag. He always did things his own way.
The film gets to the heart of this complicated man who had his ups and downs in life but never or rarely showed how tired or exhausted he was from playing ball all the time. John Shea, his autobiographer, had a lot of good anecdotes to share in the movie, as did his godson Barry Bonds, NBC and MLB baseball announcer (and all-around baseball historian) Bob Costas, and some of his ex-teammates — Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, and Reggie Jackson — whom he befriended and took under his wing in that era.
The filmmaker Nelson George infused the documentary with a few things that set it apart from other documentaries. The archival footage was pretty awesome. There was a lot of footage from when Mays played ball in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. There were a few animations and various things that broke up the monotony of the talking heads. There was a conscious effect to show a different side other than the baseball player. Even stuff about his nickname and the adjacent song was fun to find out about, which is the film's title.
Say Hey, Willie Mays! was not your average documentary. It got to the heart of a man many people didn't know about, and I learned about his motivations regarding charity and activism. He knew he wasn't doing things the way others would have wanted him to, but he banged his drum to his own beat. He was his own man. The talking heads and archival footage tell a story of a man that was revealed by his fans and those that truly know him. This was a fascinating film, and I was glad I had a chance to learn about this great man and baseball legend.
Say Hey, Willie Mays! streams on HBO Max beginning November 8.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Over the years, there have been many different animation styles. Hand-drawn animation was the style for decades before computer animation took over the last twenty-five years. Along the way, stop-motion animation caught on. Although the Disney-Pixar style may have become dominant, several filmmakers are still pushing the conventions of animation. My Father's Dragon has one of those different styles from an animation studio called Cartoon Saloon. They are popular for films such as The Breadwinner, Wolfwalkers Song of the Sea, and Secret of the Kells.
Elmer Elevator (Jacob Tremblay) is a little boy growing up in Nevergreen with his mother, Della (Golshifteh). They are supposed to start a store together in their new home, but this doesn't happen due to financial struggles. He gets frustrated with his mother, so he embarks on a trip to a secret wild island with the help of a cat, voiced by Whoopi Goldberg, and a ride from a whale, voiced by Judy Greer. While there, he meets a new friend, a dragon named Boris (Gaten Matarazzo). They go on an adventure to save this island full of creatures.
This island is full of amazing creatures, as well as some normal animals such as a gorilla (Ian McShane) with ulterior motives, a rhino mom (Diane Wiest) and her cub, a crocodile (Alan Cumming), and a monkey (Chris O'Dowd), along with a couple of tigers. The island has so much mystery, and the movie lets the main characters and viewers uncover that on their own.
This story is fanciful with all its fantasy and mystery elements and the beasts. The main focus is this little boy and his relationship with this dimwitted dragon, but along the way, they develop a connection that makes this story worthwhile for kids and adults alike. These two have a quirky friendship, sometimes getting on each other's nerves, but they rely on each other more as this story unfolds. They both have qualities the other needs to do what they need to do to save the day. It is a pretty cool relationship between the two. The actors do a great job portraying these roles. They are great together in this film.
Cartoon Saloon has made a meteoric rise in the animation game over the last few years. Their films have garnered a lot of critical acclaim, along with a pretty good fan following. Their animation varies from film to film, but with each movie, the stories dictate the various styles in which they are told. For instance, The Breadwinner is entirely different from the Irish trilogy, and those films are different from this one. In a way, it helps distinguish this studio from other animation studios. With the help of local governments, this studio will hopefully continue to succeed in doing great work for years to come.
My Father's Dragon has a very engaging story with good voice-over work from its entire cast. The financial struggles of the boy and his mom hit home for me. Although different from the other Irish trilogy and The Breadwinner, the animation style is consistent with how this studio does business. It changes the animation for who is paying to make the movie. It's a very good financial strategy. Netflix is on board this time, and hopefully, families will find this charming little film to watch over the next few weeks and during the holiday season.
My Father's Dragon hits theaters on November 4 and streams on Netflix beginning November 11.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Political thrillers involving newspaper reporters can be a bit hit-and-miss. The Ides of March, Spotlight, and All the President's Men got these genres right. They got to the bottom of the subject they were trying to investigate or focus on regarding elections and or corruption/illegal activity. The Independent hopes to capture some of these ideas, and surprisingly, it largely succeeds.
Elisia "Eli" James (Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim) is a young novice journalist for the Washington Chronicle, a fictional newspaper. She and an idol of hers, a grizzled columnist, Nick Booker (Brian Cox), help each other uncover a far-reaching conspiracy that may have a massive impact on the recent presidential election involving the incumbent President — a Republican — his Democratic opposition (Ann Dowd, Mass), and an independent candidate, Nate Sterling (John Cena, The Suicide Squad), a good-looking man of the people.
As far as political thrillers go, this one isn't bad. Director Amy Rice and first-time scriptwriter Evan Parter keep the twists and turns coming throughout the film. The suspense and intrigue are very good in the script. The characters played by the entire cast are all pretty good, even John Cena, who's not usually in these kinds of films but holds his own amongst some heavy hitters like Cox, Turner-Smith, and Dowd.
In this day and age, politicians will try anything if it means they have an edge in an election. The plot in this political thriller isn't as far-fetched as it would seem. One of the characters uses a small business to funnel money into a super PAC, which happens in real life. Having one of the main candidates as an ex-olympian is also an intriguing idea on the part of the filmmakers. We've had plenty of athletes run for office and win elections in the past, including — right now — Herschel Walker, who played football for the Georgia Bulldogs in college and the Vikings and Cowboys in the NFL.
This movie is coming out at the right time for US audiences. With the thick of election season happening as we speak, this is the perfect time to put out a political thriller such as this one. The story by Parter and the direction by Rice are good. The acting by Emmy Award winners Cox and Dowd is exceptional, but Turner-Smith is the real star here. And Cena surprises to no end as this charismatic political contender who hopes to change the White House as an independent candidate. The Independent was a pleasant surprise.
The Independent streams on Peacock beginning November 2.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Jennifer Lawrence had the most meteoric rise I've seen of any recent movie star in Hollywood. When she popped on the scene with a gritty and raw performance in Winter's Bone, she caught everyone's eye, including producers and casting directors in Hollywood. She jumped on a couple of big franchises and every good role she could find until, finally, she was burnt out from Hollywood and being a big star. She took some time off and is now back in Causeway, an A24 and Apple Original film.
Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence) is a US Soldier recovering from a traumatic experience in Afghanistan during her time over there. She returns home to New Orleans, where she grew up, to try to regain her mind and body from what happened to her. She moves in with her mother and finds a job as a pool cleaner. While getting her life back together, she meets a man named James (Brian Tyree Henry, Eternals), who has his own traumatic experience in his past.
This film is a two-hander with the friendship between Lawrence and Henry's characters at the forefront of the movie. There are a couple of supporting roles for Jayne Houdyshell as a caregiver of Lawrence's character at the beginning of the film, Linda Emond as Lawrence's character's mother, and Stephen McKinley as Dr. Lucas, the man who has the future of Lawrence's character in his hands. Most of the cast does a good job in this movie with an important story.
That being said, Lila Neugebauer, the director, doesn't do anything too dramatic with this story or its characters. She keeps the film and story a little too subtle, whereas other movies about a similar subject matter are depicted more dramatically. Lawrence showed in her award-winning performance in Silver Linings Playbook that she is capable of better in her career. She usually brings drama to all the characters she plays. This time, she's just too quiet and generic, and it doesn't do the role much justice. Henry is pretty strong in his role, though.
Causeway wants to say a lot about PTSD, and it falls short of that. It just doesn't bring the heat where it is needed. Lawrence seems like she's going through the paces in this role. She's capable of so much more. The director couldn't get anything out of her in this role. She might as well have stayed on the bench if this is going to be what she gives audiences. This should have been a powerful performance, and it's not, and the film as a whole fails because of that. Even Henry couldn't save it with his performance. Without Lawrence's full commitment, this film failed to hit the dramatic moments it needed to be effective as a good piece of cinema.
Causeway is now in theaters and hits Apple TV+ on November 4.