“Columbus”: A Film Review & Podcast

Posted: October 6th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Every once in awhile there is a screen debut so stunning it becomes indelible.

Jennifer Lawrence’s mesmerizing take as Ree, a daughter on a mission in “Winter’s Bone,” rattled those who experienced the small, independent film.

Was that really less than a decade ago?

Charlize Theron’s femme fatale Helga Svelgen in “2 Days in the Valley” was a lesser character in a campy potboiler of a movie, but she still was resonant. Her screen presence, like that of Ms. Lawrence, flashed “Future Star” in neon.

“Columbus” is a quiet film, a contemplation of architectural space and its peripheral effect on the human psyche. Such is its deliberate, unassuming nature that it might easily slip through a viewer’s consciousness but for one revelatory aspect.

That would be the cinematic charisma of newcomer Haley Lu Richardson. Some may have known her from a kindly reviewed portrayal of a best friend in “The Edge of Seventeen.” For those not familiar with that film, Richardson in “Columbus” is surely a most pleasant surprise.

So contained and natural is her performance that one must inquire, is this a harbinger of stardom to come?

Richardson’s Casey, a bright, recent high school grad, still lives in Columbus, Indiana, working at the library and worrying about her single mom, a former drug addict with whom she still lives. She is intellectually curious, but a bit bored and unsure of herself.

She befriends Jin (John Cho) an outsider, who finds himself stuck in town when his father falls ill during a visit to give a lecture about the town’s famous buildings.

Casey and Jin’s friendship deepens. There are hints of romantic longing, but it remains chaste.

They talk. A lot. A whole lot.

The film is still, devoid of kinetic energy. Literally. There are but two scenes where the camera moves. Otherwise, it observes statically. The characters talk, opine, react, delve verbally. Thus we get to know them to varying degrees through conversation.

That Richardson beguiles, makes us curious, provides some sense of energy amid the stillness is a testament to her acting chops.

It will be fascinating to observe how her career evolves after this auspicious coming out.

For more on “Columbus,” listen below:

Audio MP3

— c d kaplan

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