A feast for the eyes, and the heart

Jin, a thirty-something Korean man (John Cho – Harold and Kumar, some recent Star Trek movies) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Illinois awaiting the fate of his father, a noted architectural historian, who has fallen into a coma. 

He meets and strikes up an odd-couple relationship with Casey (Haley Lu Richardson – The Edge of Seventeen) a bright 19-year-old woman ostensibly taking a year off before college, which she can’t afford anyway. 

The movie consists of the two hanging out in the odd little town, which is apparently rich in modernist architectural gems (Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, Robert A. M. Stern, Richard Meier), and talking about everything from family obligation and personal sacrifice to the healing power of buildings. The beautiful cinematography by Elisha Christain makes full use of these structures. 

It develops that Casey is torn between pursuing some promising scholarship possibilities and taking care of her mother, an unpredictable recovering addict. Jin’s relationship with his father is semi-estranged.

This very assured, soft-spoken debut feature of Korean director Kogonada blends art-house intellectualism with deep humanity. Also fine supporting work by Parker Posey and Rory Culkin.

(100 min)