"Causeway" (2022) Ending Explained: Trauma, Friendship, & Healing


"Causeway," a compelling film directed by Lila Neugebauer, navigates the intricate journey of Lynsey, portrayed by the talented Jennifer Lawrence. In this exploration, Lynsey, an engineer with the U.S. military, confronts the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury, setting the stage for a narrative that delves deep into the complexities of recovery and self-discovery.

Lynsey, our central character, emerges from the shadows of an IED attack in Afghanistan, grappling with the aftermath of her injuries. The story meticulously unfolds Lynsey's release into the care of a nurse named Sharon (Jayne Houdyshell). This is where Lynsey's arduous journey to reclaim her identity begins, shaped by struggles with physical limitations, emotional turmoil, and the haunting memories of war.

James and Lynsey - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

As Lynsey gradually inches towards recovery, she finds herself at a crossroads, facing the decision to return to her New Orleans childhood home. It's here that the blurred lines between her past and present become vivid, exposing the intricacies of her relationships, including an unreliable mother and a kindred connection with James (Brian Tyree Henry), a mechanic battling his own physical wounds and familial strife.

The narrative takes an unexpected turn as Lynsey's pursuit of normalcy leads to an argument with James, unraveling hidden layers of their friendship. The film masterfully tackles themes of loneliness, scars, and the transformative power of genuine understanding, providing a poignant reminder that healing often comes from unexpected sources.

What Happens In The End of "Causeway"?

In a pivotal moment "Causeway" unveils the aftermath of an intense argument between James and Lynsey, stemming from a shared kiss. Lynsey, in a moment of vulnerability, admits to kissing James out of pity, leading to a heated exchange. The verbal daggers thrown at each other escalate the tension as Lynsey brings up James's involvement in a tragic incident with his nephew, challenging her kindness towards her family. The fallout results in a period of silence between them.

Lynsey at James' doorstep - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

As the narrative unfolds, Lynsey receives approval to redeploy, marking a significant development in her journey. Simultaneously, she decides to confront her past by visiting her imprisoned brother, Justin. The siblings engage in a conversation, sharing their respective struggles and catching up on their lives. Lynsey, armed with beers, then heads to James, posing the question of whether his earlier offer to move in together still stands. This marks a pivotal moment as Lynsey expresses her intention to stay and desires to rebuild their friendship.

Lynsey's Choice as a Pool Cleaner

Lynsey's choice of becoming a pool cleaner during her recovery from a brain injury is a strategic decision rooted in familiarity and personal comfort. Having engaged in this task while growing up, Lynsey recognizes her proficiency in it. The job, requiring just enough focus to prevent her mind from wandering, provides her with the solitude she seeks after returning home.

Lynsey working as a Pool Cleaner - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

In "Causeway," water and pools emerge as powerful symbols, encapsulating Lynsey's evolving relationship with herself and the world around her. Water, a recurring motif, provides her with a sense of comfort and freedom, mirroring her experiences even in the war-torn landscapes of Afghanistan. Throughout the narrative, water symbolizes not only physical immersion but also emotional cleansing and weightlessness.

The role of a pool cleaner aligns with Lynsey's need for inner calm and quiet contemplation. It allows her to distance herself from social situations she might find challenging, fostering a sense of peace. This occupation becomes a means of reconciliation with her past, mirroring her previous civil engineering-like work in Afghanistan aimed at improving water supply.

The job's appeal lies in its capacity to support Lynsey financially without extensive interactions with others. Mastery over the physical and mental aspects of pool cleaning becomes a source of relief, especially after months of struggling with various aspects of her life post-injury. Lynsey's affinity for water adds to the significance of her role, using pool cleaning as a means to find refuge and claim moments of calm amidst the chaos.

Gloria, Lynsey's mother - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

As she departs from her mother's home, Lynsey's final act of cleaning Gloria's neglected above-ground pool carries deep resonance—a gift to her mother and a symbolic act of exorcism, reclaiming a space she had long disliked and distrusted. The pool, once a source of discomfort, transforms into a place of refuge and tranquility, symbolizing Lynsey's journey of healing and self-discovery.This Lynsey's guarded approach to water is depicted as she initially swims alone, gradually inviting James into this intimate space.

What Does The Final Pool Scene Signifies?

The final pool scene, set in a public pool surrounded by people, marks a transformative moment for Lynsey. It signifies her willingness to be open to the world, moving from a state of isolation to a realization that true freedom includes caring about others. As Lynsey observes the people with a warm look, they cease to be perceived as obstacles but as potential sources of salvation, representing the expansion of her world.

Lynsey observes people in the public pool in final scene - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

In an insightful interview with Causeway director Lila Neugebauer on The Empire Film Podcast, the emotional and metaphoric potency of water is explored. The idea of immersion, the prospect of being cleansed, the weightlessness, and the potential danger inherent in water contribute to the film's rich thematic tapestry. The final water scene metaphorically becomes a pool of healing and rebirth, as Lynsey releases herself into the water, symbolizing her opening up to life's challenges and inviting others into her journey.

This poignant moment encapsulates Lynsey's struggle with isolation, a hurdle she confronts by taking a monumental step at the busy public pool. As she descends the stairs and immerses herself in the water, surrounded by strangers, Lynsey breaks free from the cloak of isolation she had worn since the IED attack. It's a significant stride towards no longer hiding away, signifying her readiness to engage with the world and its diverse array of individuals.

James' Decision To End Friendship With Lynsey

The narrative of Causeway unfolds the profound connection between James and Lynsey, a bond forged amidst the complexities of their individual traumas. However, this connection faces a poignant rupture as James decides to end their friendship. Rooted in his perception that Lynsey is stringing him along, James grapples with feelings of receiving unwanted pity and being seen in a way he rejects.

James helping Lynsey - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

Lynsey's reluctance to confront her own past and the accusatory undertones towards James's pain contribute to his decision. James, unwilling to be entangled in a relationship where Lynsey avoids her own traumas, makes the painful choice to distance himself. This decision showcases the challenges of navigating the intricacies of their friendship amid unspoken histories, emphasizing the complexities woven into the fabric of their relationship.

Lynsey's Strong Desire to Return to Work

In the aftermath of her traumatic brain injury, Lynsey's shows unwavering determination to return to her job. Cleared by her doctor, she sees her job not just as a profession but as a lifeline and a shield. For Lynsey, the job serves a dual purpose—it provides a sense of normalcy in a world reshaped by injury, and it acts as a convenient cover, allowing her to sidestep the emotional landmines of family and past trauma.

Doctor checks medical condition of Lynsey - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

Crucially, Lynsey uses her job as a deliberate distraction, steering clear of the painful complexities embedded in her family dynamics, especially with her mother, Gloria. The wounds of the past run deep, and facing them directly feels like an insurmountable challenge. Returning to work offers Lynsey an escape, a way to elude the emotional turmoil awaiting her in her hometown. The disconnection she feels from her family, is palpable, and immersing herself in her job becomes a shield against the internal work needed to reconnect with her neglected inner self.

Living with her self-involved and absent mother further intensifies Lynsey's desire to immerse herself in her work. Lynsey grows disengaged from her inner self, finding solace in the routine of her professional life. In this way, Lynsey's fervent wish to resume her duties is not just about employment; it's a deliberate act of avoiding the intricate web of emotions she must confront.

Delay in Lynsey Visiting Her Brother Until the End

The narrative of Causeway unveils a poignant thread involving Lynsey's imprisoned brother, Justin. Despite her close bond with him, Lynsey steers clear of visiting Justin in prison. The revelation of his incarceration comes as a surprise, given the assumptions, even by those close to Lynsey, that he was deceased.

Lynsey's imprisoned brother, Justin - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

The pain Lynsey feels at the sight of her brother behind bars is twofold. While there exists a layer of anger and resentment stemming from the circumstances leading to his imprisonment, the primary barrier preventing Lynsey from visiting is a profound sense of hurt. Confronting Justin means delving into emotions she has meticulously buried, and the encounter with James serves as a catalyst, bringing these suppressed feelings to the forefront.

The reluctance to face her brother reflects the depth of Lynsey's emotional struggle. The narrative suggests that Lynsey's avoidance of this crucial familial encounter is not rooted in indifference but rather in a poignant and complex process of contending with the intricacies of her own suppressed emotions. The journey towards reconnecting with her past and her brother becomes a pivotal aspect of Lynsey's character arc, underscoring the profound emotional terrain traversed in Causeway.

Possibility of Lynsey & James Living Together

The closing moments of Causeway leave us with a sense of anticipation regarding the evolving relationship between Lynsey and James. After weathering the storm of their complex friendship, Lynsey extends an olive branch to James, signaling a desire for reconciliation. The narrative hints at the possibility of them returning to a friendship that is more open and honest than before.

James and Lynsey converse - Causeway 2022 - Apple TV+, A24
Image Credit: Apple TV+ | A24

With Lynsey's decision to stay in her hometown, the prospect of living with her mother becomes increasingly burdensome. The pain associated with this living arrangement might drive Lynsey towards seeking a more stable and supportive environment. It's conceivable that she moves into James' house, providing her with an opportunity to establish a normal life free from the constant urge to escape.

Causeway meticulously explores Lynsey's initial inclination to distance herself from her roots, but her growing attachment to James becomes a compelling factor in reevaluating her decision to run. The approval for redeployment, initially seen as a ticket to freedom, prompts Lynsey to reconsider her choices. James' invitation to move in triggers a moment of introspection for Lynsey, who grapples with the idea of stability and the potential for healing in her current environment.

The film leaves room for speculation on Lynsey's change of heart. Perhaps her initial reluctance stems from a genuine concern for her well-being, or it could be a self-protective mechanism. As the narrative unfolds, Lynsey's visit with her brother and the realization of shared familial pain may contribute to her decision to stay. James, as the most healing presence in her life, may play a pivotal role in this shift, highlighting the transformative power of their connection.

What Does The Ending of "Causeway" Mean?

Causeway transcends the surface narrative of a rift between two characters. At its core, the film delves into the profound impact of forged connections and personal growth. James and Lynsey, initially disconnected from themselves and the world around them, find solace and understanding in each other.

The exploration of loneliness is a recurring theme, shedding light on the characters' unawareness of the pervasive isolation within them. Causeway suggests that human connection is not only crucial but also a catalyst for personal growth.

The characters' friendship becomes a beacon of hope in their trauma recovery journey. In the simplicity of their lives and the privacy they share, James and Lynsey find comfort and safety with each other. The invitation for Lynsey to move in with James symbolizes a significant step in their healing process. For James, it's an acknowledgment of his need for companionship and a departure from solitude. Lynsey's acceptance represents a willingness to leave behind past trauma and embrace her hometown as a place of new beginnings.

Lila Neugebauer, the director of Causeway, emphasizes the film's message that recovery and healing often manifest in small, hard-fought steps. The narrative adopts a stripped-down approach, showcasing the significance of seemingly small decisions that, in reality, mark substantial progress. The ending encapsulates the essence of Causeway, where a seemingly modest choice represents a monumental leap towards healing.

Watch "Causeway" on Apple TV+.

Causeway (2022) Ending Explained Trauma, Friendship, & Healing

Author: Ted Lasso

Author/Writer - Ted Lasso

Meet Ted Lasso, a Bachelor of Arts graduate with a unique passion for the world of Entertainment. With an innate talent for capturing the essence of TV shows & Movies, he crafts engaging articles, covering everything from latest Entertainment news to in-depth Fan theories. Ted's love for storytelling through the lens of Cinema and TV makes him a captivating voice in the world of entertainment journalism, ensuring you'll always have something exciting to watch next.

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