The film’s excellent cinematography is in perfect sync with the story’s deep emotions.
It can be risky to pre-like a film after reading just the plot or watching trailers but I knew Columbus would at least be a safe bet. Thankfully, I ended up loving almost everything about it, particularly the way each scene is so beautifully photographed.
The story follows Jin (John Cho) and his sudden arrival in Columbus, Indiana, where his father has fallen ill and is in a coma. While occupying his thoughts during an aimless stroll in the city, he meets Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a young woman from the library aspiring to be an architect.
They both pass time by wandering through the city, discussing the ins and outs of the modern architecture surrounding them. These conversations are always intellectually engaging and never condescending or preachy, another asset in this unique film.
Unsurprisingly, architecture is a grand metaphor in this film, and we learn more about the lives, hopes and aspirations of these two characters behind their own exterior as the story progresses. However, the film’s focus on their surroundings helps bring us much closer to Jin and Casey, as if we’re quiet observers in these serene environments. This is so refreshing compared with the tightly focussed shots of faces and dramatic emotion we’ve become so accustomed to in most films.
I was easily able to relate with the difficult situations these characters were facing, constantly questioning how we demonstrate our love for those close to us. It helps that Cho and Lu Richardson are superb, and amazing that we’re being guided through this by debut director Kogonada. Columbus is brilliant and original, with no hint of flamboyance, just like the fascinating architecture and characters it presents.