Kogonada’s feature-length debut “Columbus” a nice surprise

“Columbus” is one of the best movies of its kind. It’s a personal character-driven drama that isn’t overdone or dumbed down with a feel good narrative. It’s artful and open for analyzation and interpretation without being pretentious. For those who are interested in this sort of thing, I recommend you see “Columbus” before reading the slight spoilers that follow.
One of the opening scenes lays the foundation for the rest of the film. While on break at their library, Rory Culkin’s and Haley Lu Richardson’s characters discuss the ‘diminishing attention span’ argument. Culkin invents a father who can give his attention to his books for hours but is bored by his son’s video games in minutes. The son can do the opposite. The problem may not be attention spans, Culkin argues, but a conflict of interests. Maybe those interests are taking our attention away from the things that matter.
Take Jin for example. His father is a renowned scholar of architecture, a subject Jin has little interest in. A year after they’ve stopped speaking to one another, Jin is forced to fly to Columbus, Ohio, to be by his father’s side after he collapses before a lecture. The city is a “Mecca” of sorts for architectural enthusiasts, and Jin is frustrated to find himself in the middle of it.
The greatest gift of this movie is the strength of its two main characters. Jin is a professional translator with no love for his work. Casey is passionate about architecture, but has renounced much of her ambition to be a professional in order to stay with her mother. After she and Jin meet, something draws each to learn from the other. John Cho, known for “Harold and Kumar” and the “Star Trek” series, plays Jin with surprising subtlety. Casey, played wonderfully by Richardson, is a genuinely interesting small-town character. A cynic could try and find some cliches in her design, but the movie gives her more than enough originality.
Surprisingly, this is director Kogonada’s first feature length film. I say surprisingly because the cinematography is so beautiful at times. The makers of ‘Columbus’ may not actually have an obsession with architecture, but the movie’s characters do. Kogonada and crew convince you it’s worthy of their interests and your attention.

Post Author: tucollegian