By Miles Shapiro
Independent Cinema has already had an impact in 2017. Movies like “Get Out” and “The Big Sick” have shown remarkable success both financially and critically. Now South Korean writer and director Kogonada’s new film “Columbus” has arrived to continue the streak of pure artistic quality. While not necessarily a massive financial success, “Columbus” has gained a lot of buzz through festival screenings, including one at the Independent Film Festival of Boston where it took home the Special Jury Prize for narrative feature.
In this film Jin (John Cho) reluctantly journeys to Columbus Indiana after his architecture professor father falls ill. While there he meets Casey, played by rising talent Haley Lu Richardson, who is a recent high school graduate obsessed with architecture herself. The two form an unlikely bond as they meander through life in one of this year’s most touching films.
Every frame of this movie drips with visual splendor, and each shot on its own could be a painting. Aside from its aesthetically outstanding cinematography, however, this film boasts layered performances and an emotionally resonant and well-constructed screenplay. Cho and Richardson share a hyper realistic chemistry and wonderfully portray two lost souls searching for purpose. The story is instantly relatable to anybody who has ever felt unsure of what they want to do with their lives and it speaks to virtually all demographics. The direction by Kogonada is immaculate and precise, and manages to make a film mainly consisting of conversations in parks compelling and touching.
It should be made clear that this film is certainly not for everyone. The pacing is slow and deliberate, and information about the characters is revealed through seemingly insignificant lines and subtle nuances in the performances. It is certainly a far cry from most conventional fare, but, for those even mildly interested it is not a particularly inaccessible film and it’s worth seeing. The film also contains a strong supporting cast and subtle, yet impactful, score. Ultimately, what makes this film so wonderfully impactful is how it was able to establish such a vibrant atmosphere and craft a narrative I was utterly invested in even after the credits had rolled. This film is in a limited release and not easy to find but it’s worth seeking out for anyone even vaguely intrigued by films like this.