August 1st, 2017



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Release Year: 2017

Rating: 7.4/10 ( voted)

Critic's Score: /100

Director: Kogonada

Stars: John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Parker Posey

A Korean-born man finds himself stuck in Columbus, Indiana, where his architect father is in a coma. The man meets a young woman who wants to stay in Columbus with her mother, a recovering addict, instead of pursuing her own dreams.

John Cho - Jin
Haley Lu Richardson - Casey
Parker Posey -
Erin Allegretti - Emma
Rory Culkin -
Jim Dougherty - Aaron
Caitlin Ewald - Bartender
Michelle Forbes -
Alphaeus Green Jr. - Tour Guide #1
Wynn Reichert - Miller House Tour Guide
Rosalyn R. Ross - Christine
Lindsey Shope - Sarah
Shani Salyers Stiles - Vanessa
Reen Vogel - Hotel Cleaner
William Willet - Maria's supervisor / love interest

Country: USA

Language: English

Release Date: 3 Jan 2017

Did You Know?

Columbus, Indiana is known as "The Athens on the Prarie" See more »

User Review


Rating: 8/10

Saw this at the Rotterdam film festival 2017 (website:, where it was selected for the Hivos Tiger Competition. Relevant drama, realistic people, realistic situations, and realistic issues everyone can be forced to deal with when it happens to them. Pity that the dialogs were not always completely understandable, so I missed some nuances but certainly not the main topics at hand. Another minus point is that it took some time to establish who was who and what their relationships were. So I have to recommend everyone to read the synopsis beforehand.

The situations of the two main protagonists has many similarities that binds them together after a random encounter while taking a smoking break outside, though it takes some time before they really open up to one another and clarify their respective situations towards another (and implicitly to oneself, as a side effect). For some reason, festival visitors were only halfway impressed how their issues were portrayed, as this movie ranked at a 80th place (out of 172) with score 3.856 (out of 5).

Korean tradition states that when a parent dies, the son should be there when it happens, otherwise he cannot really mourn. So Jin is forced to wait until either his father is stable enough to bring him back to Korea, or when he fully recovers, or when he dies within the foreseeable future. The latter option is preferable, from a purely practical viewpoint, all things considered and setting all feelings aside. Anyway, Jin is here now following the "family first" tradition in his country to drop everything in case of family issues.

Similarly, Casey is in a limbo wait state because of her mother. She postpones her plans for the future more or less indefinitely, very possibly even until it is too late for starting a promising career. Her mother stays a few times in some sort of clinic, and the interaction with staff is a bit cumbersome, though not clear (to me) what exactly the problem is. It looks like staff finds excuses on behalf of her mom why she cannot answer the phone or why she cannot meet. There was one example where Jin and Casey were outside the clinic, discussing the architecture of the clinic as exemplary transparent (plenty of glass), allowing them to see one of the nurses answering the phone but apparently acting differently from what she promised to do. It is one example where the architectural tour through the city coincides with their domestic issues.

Precisely this common dilemma brings Casey and Jin together. That they meet is pure accident due to Casey taking a smoking break outside, and Jin is outside walking and thinking in himself. Jin's father is a scholar in architecture, while Casey recently finished her study in architecture, and often giving tours through the city for interested guests. Apparently, the city where it all happens, is full of original architecture, ahead of its time when it was built. Their relationship starts thus on architecture as a common ground to talk about, and it takes some time for both to open up about their real problems centering around their respective parents and how to escape from their respective wait states.

Parallel to her encounters with Jin, Casey meets many times with a colleague at the library where she works. She interacts with him while at work and during smoking breaks. Their relationship is warm and intimate but not in the sexual sense. At the same time Jin meets with his sister every now and then. These parallel interactions offer ample opportunities to clarify the situation they are in, but not on the deeply-understanding-level as Casey and Jin together do.

All in all, the dramatic developments are logically arranged in a perfect screenplay, that allows us to identify ourselves with all the protagonists, each of them relevant to the story in their own right. This movie stands out positively in the Tiger Competition, half of which was a waste of time, but this one certainly was not.


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