Imagine an amalgamation of lush greenery, earth tones, and the sound of rain cascading over historical architecture. Each piece of imagery that presents itself comes with a very deliberate, profound usage of spatial awareness. In this place we, ourselves, are at a standstill. We see only what's directly in front of us, rarely shifting our gaze. While this proposition inherently limits what we can see with our eyes, what we feel and hear becomes that much more enhanced.
Columbus takes a very minimalistic approach in nearly every aspect. Each scene feels almost as if it comes with an underlying grid overlay. An object's contour will often lead viewers' eyes to the next focal point, and then follow a very calculated scene exit and transition. Rarely does the camera ever shift, or follow a character, which can be jarring at first given that so many modern films display an over-eagerness to not lose sight of its precious actors.
It doesn't take long for Columbus to show off its unwavering affection for architecture, design and composition. Often a scene will open, not containing any major characters. After a momentary (figurative) pause, our characters enter, conduct their dialogue, and then exit. This gives viewers an opportunity to embrace the solitude before any sort of purposeful act takes place.
John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson fill the shoes of Jin and Casey, respectively. Jin finds himself estranged in a small town in Indiana after his father falls ill. After visiting him at the hospital, he runs into Casey—an admirer of architecture. From there, the plot never really blooms into anything extravagant. It's akin to that of our everyday, small conversations.
Cho and Richardson put on a commendable nuanced performance. Calling their story a subtle, and quiet romance almost seems too strong a hyperbole. There's certainly a fondness that develops between the two, but I'd consider it just another speck in the myriad of subtleties that the film touches on. The two leads have an unsung chemistry that falls precisely in line with the rest of its pieces.
Columbus isn't for everyone at first. It brings a surreal feel to the quiet grace that's possible within human interactions. It's a picture-perfect, elegant waltz of a film that might just have you rethink some of the smaller aspects of how you behave.
1-2: Horrendous, wouldn’t recommend watching even if free of charge.
3-4: Potentially has some good ideas, but overall still lackluster.
5-6: Average, a decently good time; go see it if it's free.
7-8: A solid recommendation, and well-rounded film; warrants a purchase after home release.
9: No glaring flaws; deserves to be watched multiple times.
10: Masterful, must-see; filmmaking at its finest.