(director/writer: Kogonada; cinematographer: Elisha Christian; editor: Kogonada; music: Hammock; cast: John Cho (Jin), Parker Posey (Eleanor), Rory Culkin (Gabriel), Michelle Forbes(Maria), Erin Allegretti(Emma), Haley Lu Richardson (Casey), Joseph Anthony Foronda (Prof. Jae Yong Lee); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Andrew Miano, Danielle Renfrew Behrens, Chris Weitz, Aaron Boyd, Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim; Superlative Films/Depth of Field Productions; 2017-in Korean and English with English subtitles when fit)
“A wonderful film about the importance of architecture in a small Midwestern town even if the locals are mostly indifferent to it.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The auspicious debut feature of the video essayist and critic.Kogonada, an immigrant from South Korea and a Yasujiro Ozu follower who took the name of Ozu’s writer. He creates a wonderful film about the importance of architecture in a small Midwestern town even if the locals are mostly indifferent to it and don’t care how humanizing great architecture can be. The indie is set in Columbus, Indiana, that’s noted for its modernist architecture designed in the nineteen-fifties and sixties by such great architects as Eero Saarinen and Harry Weese.
The librarian, a recent high school grad, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), with ambitions to be an architect, works with masters-degree holder Gabriel (Rory Culkin). He is smitten with her. But Casey is stuck in this dead-end town, and remains only to look after her unstable, recovering addict mom (Michelle Forbes).
When a noted local professor collapses and goes into a coma, his book translator son Jin (John Cho) comes here from Korea to be with him. Jin wanders aimlessly around town and runs into Casey. The two strike up a friendship that can be emotionally compared to the celebrated structures in town, and the two possible lovers take in together all the magnificent structures.
Parker Posey has a small part as the professor’s loyal assistant and companion, someone whom Jin once had a crush on.
The delicate coming-of-age drama, perhaps a bit too arty in parts, nevertheless draws favorable parallels to Yasujiro Ozu’s masterpiece Tokyo Story, but without reaching such lofty heights. The subtle and at times striking performance by Richardson gives the quiet indie film its soul.
REVIEWED ON 3/23/2018 GRADE: B+