Love and personal ties are matters of life and death in the new trailer for Kogonada’s Columbus, which stars John Cho as Jin, a curious man whose father falls gravely ill, leaving him stranded in the film’s titular Indiana town where he strikes up a meaningful friendship with an architectural enthusiast, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson). The pair’s connection then probes a soul-searching (and, judging by the clip, breathtakingly gorgeous) exploration of familial duties for both parties.
“There’s this belief that if you’re not there when a family member dies, your spirit will roam aimlessly and become a ghost,” Cho says in the haunting opening moments of EW’s exclusive preview of the project. “Why aren’t you at the hospital?” a woman’s voice asks. Cho replies: “He was never interested.”
“You don’t want him to get better?” she continues, to which Cho responds: “Maybe not.”
What follows is an absorbing array of intricately composed shots by cinematographer Elisha Christian, who frames the movie for the mononymous filmmaker Kogonada, making his feature debut here. Kogonada — a prolific video essayist — isn’t the director’s real name, however, but rather a tribute to Japanese auteur Yasujirō Ozu’s screenwriting collaborator, Kōgo Noda, who worked with Ozu on dozens of titles — including the 1953 classic Tokyo Story.
“The word ‘artist’ gets battered around a lot in this industry, and it can sometimes be derogatory; it can be code for ‘not commerce,’” Cho, star of films like Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and the contemporary reboot of the Star Trek franchise, told IndieWire of his Columbus director earlier this year. “And I want you to know that when I call him an ‘artist,’ I mean that in a very pure way. He is an artist in the sense that he’s a seeker, he’s a person asks questions, he’s a person who has ideas and feels them deeply.”
Columbus, which also features Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, and Michelle Forbes in supporting roles, had its world premiere as an official selection of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in January. It later traveled to similar events in France, Boston, and Seattle, and will be released in theaters on Aug. 4. Watch EW’s exclusive trailer for the new film above.