It only takes about 60 seconds to realize that this film is going to be Arthouse af. I mean, if a film written and directed by a man named Kogonada wasn’t a dead giveaway then I don’t know what to tell you. Columbus is a film about two people at low points of their lives. A man named Jin (Cho), whose father is in a coma and he hasn’t spoken to in years. Meanwhile, a young woman named Casey (Richardson) is in the middle of rut dealing with her recovering drug addict mother which is keeping her from moving forward with her dreams of being an architect.
The film’s bread and butter is behind the camera as Kogonada’s filmmaking is very simple in many ways. The camerawork is mostly static and works to keep the story within the frame. Rarely do you ever see a dolly shot and if you do, it’s only to intensify the human emotion in the scene. Our main characters are dealing with the paralyzing emotional issues stemming from bad relationships with their parents. Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho give very intimate performances. Not overly emotional, but given how the film is a small window into their lives, you learn to sympathize with their points of view and connect with them. This film may look like a romance if you have watched the trailer, but there is way more going on here than you think. The characters lean on one another in desperate times of need and help each other do what needs to be done, but neither can do on their own, move on with their lives.
I don’t always get to watch stylish artsy crap, but I can safely say that Columbus is one the most authentic visual love letters to a city (Columbus, Indiana) I’ve seen in some time and earns a spot as one of my top films of the years.
OFFICIAL RATING: ****
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