A while back, I stumbled upon the film Columbus. It’s mainly a story about the relationship between Casey, a recent high school graduate who feels obligated to continue living at home to help her mother, and Jin, whose aged father—a respected architecture professor—has collapsed into a coma on the eve of a lecture he was scheduled to give in Columbus.
The film watches Jin and Casey’s paths cross in Columbus, and challenge each others’ perceived roadblocks—Jin questioning Casey’s actual need to stay stuck in Columbus instead of going to architecture school, and Casey challenging Jin’s emotionally distant relationship with his father.
Since architecture is part of the connective tissue between these two characters, and Columbus is full of architectural gems, Casey takes Jin to many of her favorite structures throughout the film. One of those is the Irwin Union Bank & Trust. There’s a scene where Casey begins to rattle off a sort of tour guide exposition about the bank, but Jin cuts her off.
Jin: You said this is one of your favorite buildings.
Casey: It is.
Casey: It’s one of the first modernist banks in the United States…
Jin: No, no, that can’t be it. Do you like this building intellectually, because of all the facts?
Casey: No. I’m also moved by it.
Jin: Yes. Yes! Tell me about that. What moves you?
Casey: I thought you hated architecture.
Jin: Yeah, I do. But I’m interested in what moves you. Particularly about a building.
The audio drops out, and the camera frames Casey, appearing at first to not know what to say, but then slowly beginning to speak. We can’t hear what she’s saying, but the words aren’t important; from her expressions, it’s plain to see that Jin’s prompt has caught her off guard, and that she’s processing a more emotional connection to the building than she had acknowledged before. As she speaks and gestures, it’s clear that this a meaningful moment of self-discovery.
I’ve thought about this scene a lot since I watched it. It’s a masterful bit of cinema, but it’s also an invitation. Who wouldn’t want to have that kind of revelatory moment? What sits just below the surface of the things I enjoy? How many of my pursuits contain untapped joy and meaning, just waiting for the head to connect to the heart? What could I unlock in others, just by asking them to speak more deeply about their interests?
What moves you?