Columbus

Jin is summoned from Korea to Columbus, Ohio by Eleanor when his estranged father collapses. Jin impatiently waits out his father’s coma, and seems to prefer death over recovery, for selfish reasons. He can’t bear to to sit by his father’s hospital bed, and he’s not going to speak to him now since the two haven’t spoken in a year. So he wanders about, trying to appreciate what his father loved about Columbus’s unique architecture.

This is how Jin (John Cho) meets Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a young woman stayed in Columbus to take care of her addict mother rather than pursuing her own dreams in college and beyond.

The cool thing about Columbus is its cinematography, which is surprisingly beautiful in such a small, independent film. It frames the architecture well – except scratch that, I’m embarrassed by this underwhelming sentiment. Because the truth is, the way the buildings are framed and posed and shown and hidden – it made me feel MV5BZjNjY2Q2NjAtOWI0My00ZDg3LTljNzEtNzhiYzkzNzUwMTI0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzI3NjY2ODc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_things about architecture. The photography is just as kind to its human characters, but the way it treats the artistry of the buildings turns them into characters as well, characters that reflect and mirror or juxtapose and contrast. It’s clear that writer-director Kogonada has put a lot of thought and time and research into his baby.

Columbus isn’t an ambition story, it’s just two people, fairly dissimilar, who cross paths as they kill time in different ways. They’re both waiting on parents, and probably shouldn’t be. They’re both learning what that means and who it makes them as people and what effect they’ll allow the past to have on their futures. It’s mostly quiet and introspective, but the composition and structure and the precision of the visuals come together – not to overcome the silence, but to act in synchronicity. Kogonada finds serenity in stasis but that doesn’t mean his film doesn’t pack an emotional punch. It’s just a minimalist canvas upon which you can project a lot of your own feelings, and come away feeling just a bit refreshed, and just a tiny bit hopeful.

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10 thoughts on “Columbus

  1. Christopher

    I can barely think of a handful of films that treat architecture as a character–actually the two that first come to mind are The Motorcycle Diaries and Mr. Turner, which treat landscape as a character. I really want to see this, especially since I’ve been to Columbus.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Well I’m sure that would add a neat layer to it. I did wonder what its inhabitants think – whether they’ve paid the same attention or whether they’re just buildings they walk by on a daily basis. We do all tend to take our own shit for granted.

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  2. Lavanya

    Wow!! Sounds like an interesting movie. I usually love these kind of books and movies that showcase realistic scenarios and topics. I hope I’ll be able to find it somewhere to see.

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  3. calensariel

    Yum! Going to have to watch for this one. I had feelings about Montreal when we were through there a few years ago. Thee architecture I mean. I didn’t like the way new buildings had been thrown up between old, historic ones. It made me feel confused or something…

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