Two souls meet amidst the striking architecture and park-like greenery of Columbus, Indiana. Recent graduate Casey (19) has given up her dreams in order to care for her mother, who is recovering from an addiction to meth and bad men. A library job can also keep her happy, Casey tells herself. Then she runs into Jin (37), an architect’s son born in Korea who, having dropped out of a literary study, has become a translator and come here because his father is in a coma. He hasn’t spoken to him in a year and doesn’t care to show false sentiment – for now, all he can do is wait.
kogonada, a Korean born US filmmaker, has chosen a calm, well-balanced style and tightly controlled composition, with the camera seldom moving. Images of nature, sculpture and details of buildings and interiors act as a mirror to the characters’ feelings as these gradually deepen. The fact that their friendship remains platonic contributes to the clarity of this unexpected meeting.
As everyday life carries on and a fellow student and assistant to Jin’s father, who is secretly in love, acts as a sounding board, Casey and Jin tentatively start to open up to one another. In playful, intelligent and ever more serious discussions they start to examine how their lives have become stuck.