MOVIE REVIEW: “Columbus” stars John Cho (Star Trek Into Darkness, Identity Thief), Haley Lu Richardson (Split [2016], Five Feet Apart), Parker Posey (The Daytrippers, Superman Returns), Michelle Forbes (Escape from L.A., True Blood [TV series]), Rory Culkin (Signs, Mean Creek), Erin Allegretti (Between the Lines [TV series], Chicago Fire [TV series]), and Shani Salyers Stiles (The Things We’ve Seen, The Black Book). It is written and directed by Kogonada (After Yang, Pachinko [TV series]).

When his distant architect father slips into a coma, a young Korean man (Cho) forcibly shows up to Columbus, Ohio to be with him. It’s then that he connects with a younger woman (Richardson), whose love for architecture sparks an unlikely bond between them.

A movie about a bond over architecture… that calls for some artsy cinematography.

It’s a rarety that I am approached to watch a film with someone in my house. One of my brother’s pushed for me to see this little flick called “Columbus” with him, even willing to shell out five dollars to rent it on Amazon Prime. I thought this must be something worth my time. And for its beautiful cinematography, reserved performances, and poignant story, I would say it was.

“Columbus” is a film that uses architecture as a motif; it’s a means to bridge our two leads together who are both going through some hardships in their personal lives. As a man who grew up with a dad who was into architecture, this had a small touch of personability to me. The buildings they study are wonderful to marvel, and the filmmakers capture them well. Production design is also taken into account, with a majority of the film utilizing a primary color scheme (red, blue, yellow). It’s hard to say if this was intended from the get-go or influenced by the locations they would shoot in, but the movie is artistically conscious nonetheless. Which helps a lot when it comes to these smaller flicks.

I sort of relate this experience to watching a Studio Ghibli movie. And before you set out to see this believing it is of the high quality that Studio Ghibli produces, let me explain what I mean. There are certain features out there that evoke a sense of calm and beauty in the presence of uncertainty. Moments are captured in long takes with long pauses, ushering in a sense of peace even though the content isn’t the most happy in nature. Studio Ghibli does this in spades; though I am not as huge of a fan as others, I always enjoy the beauty that pours from the screen and its sense of taking things slow. “Columbus” operates the same way, with music, direction, and editing that give it a poetic nature. There are moments where we will cut to a scene that has no dialogue, and the character is simply laying down and doing nothing for a few minutes until we cut away. What’s the meaning? In most cases, I can tell that the director is trying to evoke pain, anxiety, and anguish through our characters’ physicality rather than speech. But I will say that quite a bit of it can come across as trying too hard to be meaningful.

When it comes to these poetic features, they can be hit or miss for me. I love artsy, but have a distaste for pretentious cinema. And that’s not to say that “Columbus” is pretentious, but it does possess qualities that make me raise an eyebrow. There’s a scene in the film where Jin (Cho) questions Casey’s (Richardson) examination of certain aspects of life/architecture as pulling something from nothing. I can’t remember the exact word he used (I’ll admit that I am writing this review two and a half weeks after seeing it), but I laughed because it felt like a jab at the movie itself. There’s serenity, beauty, and poignancy to be found in “Columbus,” though I would be remiss if I didn’t say I questioned its intent from time to time. I sometimes felt like they were searching a bit too much, and trying a bit hard in areas to get that revelatory moment.

All this to say, “Columbus” is a worthwhile film. I enjoyed watching it for its cinematography, locations, and natural performances by the two leads. The director himself is going on to do some awesome things in the industry, and I can see him getting far. If you’re looking for a peaceful, artsy feature for a rainy day, this is the one for you. FINAL SCORE: 87%= Juicy Popcorn

Here is the trailer:

One response to ““Columbus”

  1. Pingback: April Movie Rankings | Juicy Reviews·

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