Columbus makes me think of a few things off the bat, and none of them end up being true about this film. Not even Ohio, thankfully.
The only reason it is on my radar is it got nominated for a good number of Spirit awards and yes, that list is already out so get ready for a wave of these reviews. It had nominations for Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, and Cinematography. It is going up against some big competition in Cinematography, but there is always a chance for the “first” awards. Those categories are very nice, because it puts all newbies against each other, not against some big shot indie director who has been here already for 10 years in a row.
But in further looking at the film, I enjoy the actors generally, so that is a plus. And if it is nominated for cinematography, you know there is a good chance it is pretty to look at it. That is another plus.
Wow, Columbus, we are starting off with two plusses before I really even get to know you.
This first picture looks like an advertisement for the local cult.
Columbus is a story about two people at very different stages of their lives, meeting and learning from one another. And it takes place in Columbus, Indiana! Not Ohio!
Jin (John Cho) is a Korean American who is in Columbus because his father is in the hospital. He hasn’t had the best relationship with his dad and had moved away a long time ago. His dad is a pretty famous architect and Jin, well, doesn’t care about architect for that reason. He has a job translating Korean texts into English, he lives alone, and right now, he lives alone in an apartment, hanging out occasionally with an old friend Eleanor (Parker Posey).
Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) is recently out of high school. And by recently, I mean a whole year earlier, but here she is, still hanging out in her town and not going to college. Casey is a smart girl by anyone’s standards, and everyone tells her this. She just has other things on her mind. Namely her mother, who happens to be a recovering addict, who is very close to relapsing time and time again. Her mom works as an overnight custodian, which keeps Casey up at weird hours, worried about her mom. But she did recently get a basic job a book store with a new friend, Gabriel (Rory Culkin). And she loves architecture, of course, because she grew up in Columbus, Indiana, which strangely has a lot of cool buildings in it or near it.
One day, Jin and Casey meet on a chance encounter. And they will begin to talk, and talk a lot, about everything, nothing, and of course, architecture.
Also starring Erin Allegretti.
“Shit is this whole movie just two people looking at buildings?” Well…
Columbus is only about 100 minutes long, but it certainly feels a lot longer than that. It drags on because nothing “showy” or ground shattering ever occurs. There are no big plot twists/reveals, no sudden changes in heart. Everything is organic, slow, and I guess developmentally sound. We have two stories, both with their own pretty much set in stone conclusions. We just have to get there for those two characters, and see how they decide their paths.
And how do we do that? Through dialogue. Having conversations about buildings and then about life. There is some awkward moments where you wonder if these two are going to develop an actual relationship or not, because of course. That seems to be the natural process of human beings, or at least those that appear in TV and film.
The dialogue is great in this movie. Cho and Richardson are also really good in their roles. It is definitely wonderful to look at, in sometimes quite subtle ways. It is just a film that is really hard to get into. It feels like it drags on, it is boring, and not something I would just ever recommend to anyone.
I bet Josh Radnor loves this movie though.
2 out of 4.