While his father is in a coma, Jin finds himself stuck in an unusual Midwestern city renowned for its modernist buildings. Though not fond of architecture, Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey, a bright girl who works at the city library (avoiding college and her future), and she shows him the local marvels. With a curious intimacy reserved for strangers, Jin and Casey explore both the town and their conflicted emotions: Jin’s estranged relationship with his father and Casey’s reluctance to leave her mother, a recovering drug addict.
Paced to the naturalistic rhythms of its late-summer setting, Kogonada’s debut feature unfolds as a gently drifting, deeply absorbing conversation that constantly reinvents itself. His atmospheric style is strewn with gorgeous tableaus that elegantly incorporate the city’s architecture. Kogonada is intrigued by how we experience space and absence, and although we typically see modernism as intrinsically alienating, here it’s also a spiritual salve. A harmonious blend of cerebral and emotional storytelling, Columbus is a lyrical meditation on spiritual spaciousness—and on being in the modern world.