Following in the footsteps of a famous parent can be an extremely difficult thing to do. Whist they may receive adulation from people who have never met them, to the person involved they are simply ‘mum’ or ‘dad’. The pressure can be vast, both from within the family unit and externally from wider society. In Kogonada feature debut Columbus, a son must face-up to his father’s legacy and learn to step out of his shadow.
When Jin’s (John Cho) father, a renowned architecture scholar, falls into a coma, he travels to Columbus, Indiana to do his family duty. The pair are estranged and Jin now works as a translator in Korea. Born and raised in the Midwestern town, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) chooses to place her dreams on hold in order care for her mother (Michelle Forbes) who is a recovering addict. The pair strike up her friendship as they work through their personal demons.
Columbus is a sweet and understated film about family, loss and connections. The subtlety and restraint on show brings to mind some of the great works of Japanese cinema. It’s an incredibly confident and self-assured debut. Cho is dependably good but it’s Haley Lu Richardson who steal the show with a sublime performance. Columbus is an understated and delightful American indie drama which allows events to enfold at their own pace.
Columbus is out in cinemas from 5 October.