Starring Haley Lu Richardson, Jon Cho, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin
Kogonada’s directorial debut it’s like an exercise in architectural cinematic poetry. It should take the viewer about five minutes from the credits to understand that architecture is the focal point in Columbus. Nominated for best screenplay at the Gotham Awards, this self-reflective film combines themes and notions of Lost in Translation with last year’s Patterson. Every frame is filled with lines and design, what Kogonada has commandeered in the picture is as interesting as what the characters are saying and doing. Comedian, turned serious actor Cho (Star Trek) delivers a Tom Ford like character, where he broods, smokes, and stylishly meanders through the movie. It’s Richardson (Split, Edge of Seventeen) however who steals the show with her beautiful sadness.
Jin (Cho) arrives in Columbus, Indiana when news of his father reaches him. Jin is the son of a famous architect, revered for his brilliance and designs. “You’re all he’s got left,” Elanor (Posey) says. While he waits for his father to die or awake from a coma, Jin is ambivalent to the outcome, he walks the campus and meets twenty-something Casey. The young impressionable girl yearns to attend college, but stays in town, caring for her addict recovering mother. She shows Jin all over the city, her favorite buildings, and he compels her to explain why they are favorites. Both begin to realize they are anchored by parents and through a brief friendship have their lives altered.
Columbus might not be the most riveting film of the year, but it’s pensive and soothing in a deeply personal way.
“You would be surprised how little people know or care about architecture here,” Casey says. Nearly every word out of her mouth is about the building and structures around her. Casey lights up when she is around Jin, who is decades older than her. Their tour of the city is as much of a benefit for the viewer than anything. Those with no reason to visit the flyover state might never have understood its architectural significance or beauty without such a film. The juxtaposition between these two is quite fascinating, that’s where the comparison to Lost in Translation occurs. Columbus might not be the most riveting film of the year, but it’s pensive and soothing in a deeply personal way.
A calming artistic narrative that juggles character development and the influence of architecture on the soul.