Columbus Film Review :
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A Korean-born man finds himself stuck in Columbus, Indiana, where his architect father is in a coma. The man meets a young woman who wants to stay in Columbus with her mother, a recovering addict, instead of pursuing her own dreams.
The buildings rise up out of the grass and trees like relics of a mysterious more sophisticated civilization. They are abstract, startling, sometimes anti-gravitational. They are not monuments. They were built for utilitarian purposes: banks, offices, a church, a library, a hospital. These geometric Modernist buildings pepper the landscape of the “Midwest Mecca of Architecture,” Columbus, Indiana, and were designed by some of the most innovative architects of the 20th century: it’s no wonder people travel there from all over to take architecture tours. Columbus’ architecture is the canvas for “Columbus,” the stunning directorial debut of Kogonada (mainly known up until now as a video essayist, whose Vimeo page is a great archive of visual analysis). What Kogonada has done with “Columbus” (along with cinematographer Elisha Christian) is to blend the background into the foreground and vice versa, so that you see things through the eyes of the two architecture-obsessed main characters. Watching the film is almost like feeling the muscles in your eyes shift, as you look up from reading a book to stare out at the ocean. From the very first shot, it’s clear that the buildings will be essential. They are a part of the lives unfolding in their shadows. Sometimes it almost seems like they are listening.
There is a story in “Columbus.” What is remarkable is how intense it is, given the stillness and quiet of Kogonada’s style, and the focus with which he films the buildings.
A Korean-born man named Jin (John Cho) travels to Columbus to care for his father, who is in the hospital following a catastrophic collapse. Accompanying him is an old friend (and possibly onetime lover), who was also his father’s star pupil, played by Parker Posey. Jin has a distant relationship with his father. He can’t connect with the worry and sadness his friend is feeling. On a separate track initially, we meet Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), working as a page at the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library (one of the most important interiors in the film). Casey has graduated from high school but has put off going to college perhaps indefinitely because her mother is a former meth addict. (“Meth is really big here,” says Casey. “Meth and Modernism.”) She fears what will happen to her mother without her. Casey and a coworker (Rory Culkin) have interesting discussions, sitting amidst the towering stacks, their conversations a blend of tentative flirting, kindness, and gentle debate. One day, Jin bums a cigarette from Casey. They strike up a conversation.