Columbus is the feature-film debut of Korean American director Kogonada, known to cinephiles for his video essays on auteurs. His film stars John Cho (Star Trek, Harold and Kumar) as Jin, a grieving son arriving in Indiana from Seoul to care for his ailing father, a renowned scholar of modernist architecture. The architectural imagery in Columbus serves as something more: it provides narrative punctuation, forming elegantly placed interludes in a moving story of the real people who live in and visit today's Columbus. It's a film about the forgotten heartland ambitions of young dreamers like Casey who face the precarious economic realities of a city beyond the thriving coasts. At a time when ideas of diversity, Middle Americanness, and technology-fueled attention-deficiency sit at the center of national cultural debates, Columbus elegantly glides across all those themes, speaking to yet not confronting them.

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