Columbus ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

First, I have to shout out the night-time smoking conversation in the middle of the movie when Casey and Jin drive to Casey's first architectural love and she has her arms on the car roof and Haley Lu Richardson's arm hair is clearly in focus. It's a small realistic detail that is so rarely seen in films but makes so much sense. Honestly, so cute.

With that said, I've noticed that I've developed a fond appreciation for movies that are simple and well-executed. There doesn't have to be much melodrama or action, but maybe just a singular or few themes explored delicately yet rigorously.

Columbus is just that. Casey chooses duty (caring for her mother) over her personal interests and ambition. Jin is forced to care for his father, a professor who has committed his life to his passions instead of caring for his son. Over the course of this film and their burgeoning relationship, the two gain a more holistic understanding of their individual situations. A poetic yin and yang.

Of course, the backdrop to this character growth is beautiful Columbus, Indiana, and the unique architecture scattered throughout. Gorgeous cinematography, framing, and recurring yellow tinting results in a consistent warmth that oozes from out the screen for the entire runtime. The influences to past films and directors is obvious if you're familiar with the references. If you aren't, you'll think director Kogonada is a genius and came up with it all himself. Fun either way.

John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson are both great. Haley Lue Richardson's face in particular conveys a wide variety of emotions without ever seeming like it's exaggerated. I like how much she's smiling and smirking when talking to her friend who works at the library, it makes sense. I hate when people playing friends act like their parents set them up on a play date and told them to make friends.

The beginning and end of the film mirroring each other is perfect within the story and is yet another example of a filmmaker having something to say, nothing ground-breaking, but it's said perfectly and with artistic flair. Just beautiful.