Columbus is an intensely introspective and thoughtful film that tells the story of Jin (John Cho), the son of a famous architect, and Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a Columbus resident and architecture enthusiast, as their circumstances force them on a journey of growth and self discovery.
Alongside the two main characters, Columbus’ architecture is established as an omnipresent narrator that helps guide the characters on their quest to find out what’s really important in their lives. The buildings set the tone of the scene, sometimes depicting empty cold spaces and other times creating a warm, inviting atmosphere for the characters to interact in.
Jin and Casey’s relationship is a bit unusual, but as they get to know each other their conversations grow more personal. For Casey, Jin is the big-city hot shot that has all the opportunity in the world. While for Jin, Casey has all the things he feels he lacks, a family and somewhere to belong. The film is very conversation-driven and although most of the dialog is serious and introspective, there are a few humorous moments between the characters that keeps the mood light despite the heavy topics.
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Many Columbus residents will identify with Casey and her internal conflict between staying at home to take care of her mother and going off to the city in search of something bigger. Although Casey is infatuated with the town’s architecture, she also notes how so many of the residents of Columbus take the buildings for granted and don’t appreciate them as they should.
This especially resonated with me being from Columbus and having walked by so many of these buildings every day, they have become so normal to me that I often forget to acknowledge them for the works of art that they are. I found it difficult to stay engaged with the film since it is so unusual to see Columbus’ cityscapes on the big screen alongside celebrities.
Every time they visited a new location, I couldn’t help but recall all the times that I had spent there instead of staying focused on the story. The filmmaker, Kogonada, portrayed Columbus from an outsider’s perspective but managed to capture Columbus’ small-town feel while highlighting our uniqueness. Kogonada did a great job highlighting some of our most beautiful buildings, but there were many buildings that were left out that should have been included. With the exception of a couple scenes, the movie was shot primarily in the downtown area focusing especially on the library, First Christian Church and Irwin Gardens.
Although the film is definitely not a typical feel-good or easy-going movie, it is a unique and thought-provoking film that does justice to our town’s heritage and culture. Because of its intensely reflective style and heavy dialog, many viewers might have find it difficult to remain engaged with the story, but all Columbus residents will enjoy seeing our town on the big screen regardless. “Columbus” is a great Hollywood debut for our town and I can’t wait to see what sort of notoriety and recognition it will bring.
Tickets are available for three of today’s eight opening-day screenings of “Columbus” at YES Cinema (12:30, 1:30 and 3:01 p.m.). Tickets are available to all local screenings after today.
The movie is being shown on both screens of the downtown cinema, 328 Jackson St., with one theater having 177 seats and the other 146.
Depending on show times, tickets cost either $4 or $6, plus $1 fee when ordered online.
Information: 812-378-4YES or yescinema.org.
Summary: A Korean man finds himself stuck in Columbus, Indiana, where his architect father is in a coma. The man meets a young woman who wants to stay in Columbus with her mother, a recovering alcoholic, instead of pursuing her own dreams.
Cast: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, Michelle Forbes, Shani Salyers Stiles
Running time: 100 minutes
Rating: Not rated
Taylor Wentz, a Columbus native and 2011 Columbus East High School graduate living in Salt Lake City, saw the “Columbus” movie Jan. 28 when it premiered during the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Wentz, a competitive speed skater, viewed the movie about her hometown with husband Michael Burdekin, whom she married Sept. 10 of last year at Irwin Gardens, a property included in the “Columbus” movie. They saw “Columbus” inside the packed house of the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City, and she shared her observations about the film.