Columbus by Kogonada
By Shalini Adnani
Columbus, Kogonada’s debut feature, is a distinctly unique film in which two unlikely characters come together in the modernist city of Columbus, Indiana - this minimalist backdrop serves as the physical and emotional backdrop as thirty-something Jin (John Cho) and recent high school graduate Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) exchange profound existential ruminations.
Jin travels to Columbus after his father falls heavily ill, while Casey finds it hard to let go of her co-dependent and meth-addicted mother: they are both constrained and tied to Columbus due to the illness of their parent. The importance of architecture was one of the most satisfying aspects of this film where two people of different generations are unfulfilled by the promises of modernism which reject the past. Jin and Casey attempt to find structure in their lives through clean lines and white-cubes, trying to box themselves into categories and definitions all the while knowing they can't.
The soundscape was another enchanting aspect of this film. Kogonada juxtaposes the stark architecture with amplified sounds of nature. Even the production design had careful consideration of color, using reds sporadically and with a clear purpose. He clearly draws from cinematic master Ozu through his shooting style but also his exploration of generational angst.
Columbus was one of the most original films I’ve ever seen. It’s a modernist film, set in a modernist place yet it avoids being pretentious and gives the audience a moving piece that left me in tears. I suspect this film will continue to polarise it’s audience, but I loved it. I can’t wait for more.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Writer & Director - Kogonada
Producer - Ki Jin Kim, Andrew Miano, Chris Weitz, Danielle Renfrew Behrens, Aaron Boyd
Cinematography - Elisha Christian
Production Design - Diana Rise