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.
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Kogonada's cinephilia is front and center, evoking the likes of Rohmer and Tati. While the film is not perfect (I personally wish there were less of a plot), it is one of the most mature first films I have seen in years and shows a natural transition from video essays to full on filmmaking.
Kogonada graduates from video essay to film essay. "This is not a movie. Nothing happens". In a sense, Columbus looks like The Sims: characters are avatars, the acting is mostly algorithmic. Not a criticism, just an observation.
A delicate film that showcases the beautiful architecture sprouting out of this quirky community in southern Indiana. The town of Columbus should have been given top billing during the credits. Kogonada is clearly a master of composition and mood, and I found the film’s symmetry quite mesmerizing. Some of the dialogue is annoying, but the film in general is rather rewarding.
2.5 stars. John Cho rarely gets good roles to sink his teeth into. Unfortunately, the staid performances dictated by the director are frustratingly devoid of much warmth (though Haley Jo Richardson transcends this parameter at times). The plot needs more: twists/turns to enliven the otherwise simple story of children caring for their parents. The cold modern architecture of Columbus only adds to the disaffection.
On paper this should have been clichéd and creepy but instead you get to dive gently into an enlightening tone poem both peaceful and exhilarating. Not a word is wasted, not an edit is rushed or leaves you hanging for the sake of it. It has the kind of gentle and thoughtful melancholia without a hint of melodrama that I so crave for. I need more.
Kogonada always stood apart from the other video essayists, using existing materials not to make academic points, but tone poems. So the typical red flags of a "critic-turned-artist debut" – a cold repository of influences and references, a director who can't work with actors, a kaleidoscope of stories already told – are replaced by astonishing geometry inhabited by humanity & the sharp pain of leaving home.