Directed by Lila Neugebauer.
With Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond, Jayne Houdyshell, Stephen McKinley Henderson Russell, Harvard Frederick Weller, Sean Carvajal, Will Pullen and Neal Huff.
An American soldier suffers a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan and struggles to adjust to life in his country.
Pavement is a touching tale of friendship and trauma confronting a presumably broken Jennifer Lawrence and an equally painful ultra-naturalistic turn from Brian Tyree Henry. The trajectory of the narrative itself is pretty basic and somewhat underwhelming (there’s a feeling of “oh, that’s it” after the end, but a simultaneous notion that this is the right stopping point), but first-time feature director Lila Neugebauer (using a script by Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh and Elizabeth Sanders) mustered more than enough talent in front of and behind the camera to hide some flaws.
It is also pleasing to point out that, especially considering Pavement has a rock opening. The film features a depressed and demobilized Afghan engineer suffering from PTSD, Lynsey, in a mobility rehabilitation center, giving the initial impression that the film will be a series of near-disabled physical challenges for Jennifer Lawrence to stage shootings. screen for rewards conversation. . It’s more or less a prologue, with a physically recovered Lynsey returning to society and returning to her childhood home in New Orleans, led by a neglectful mother (Linda Emond) assuring that she has exchange. I’ll let you viewers see for yourself, but I’m sure you all know the answer.
Heavily medicated and mentally ill, all Lynsey thinks about is redeploying to once again escape her home and the complicated memories they stir. Naturally, her doctor (Stephen McKinley Henderson) is against the decision, citing that getting back into that dangerous zone with PTSD (she was caught in an explosion while traveling in a convoy) is stronger than the link between smoking and cancer. Her decision-making speaks to how little she has in life, suggesting deep loneliness and the possibility of running away from family matters.
Lynsey’s truck also breaks down, setting her on the path to meeting mechanic James (in a career of screen appearance and performance master, whether a movie deserves it or not, Brian Tyree Henry is arguably at his best here). In the midst of business discussions, they click with each other and casually hang out, sometimes in bars and other times in the pools of the wealthy. Lynsey is not planning a job (one family in particular is on vacation).
There really isn’t much to Pavement, a story so admirably stripped of character beats, that works primarily through the authenticity of the script and performances. The occasional handy treat pops up, but for the most part, Pavement locks into this connection between two hurt people hurting inside, seemingly desperate for companionship and to open up to each other.
Without saying much, James lost one of his legs in a tragic car accident that claimed the lives of loved ones. He doesn’t necessarily tell all the details when telling the story to Lynsey, but his body language, his starts and stops looking for words to speak, and his organic line delivery are a recipe for an acting turn. of flooring.
There’s a scene where Lynsey encourages James to get into the pool to swim, where he’s reluctant mostly due to insecurities about his missing leg (and unmistakably shame surrounding the larger context of the accident). Eventually he obliges, playing this scene delicately with a crystal-clear understanding of everything the character is meant to feel. And the second Lynsey makes the mistake of showing mercy, James has a surprisingly real reaction.
It’s not a romantic relationship either, as Lynsey informs James that she doesn’t date men. Pavement is strictly about two people with baggage who find solace and companionship in each other and the courage to deal with their respective traumas. It’s a nice little film that, while nothing out of the ordinary, correctly applies Lila Neugebauer’s theatrical experience to filmmaking, training Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry to some of the best acting in their respective careers.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com