PAST LIVES: A Powerful and Moving Cinematic Experience

Writer/director Celine Song makes her feature film debut with an outstanding film that makes its audience reflect upon the various paths we have taken in life and those we didn’t. The movie focuses on the relationship between two former childhood friends who had the potential for romantic involvement, but life had other plans for them. Featuring superb performances by lead actors Greta Lee and Teo Yoo, Past Lives is one of the year’s best films.

When they were children, Nora (Seung Ah Moon/Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Seung Min Yim/Teo Yoo) were close friends on the verge of romance. However, before this happens, Nora’s family leaves their home country of Korea to begin a new life elsewhere. During the rest of their youth and into adulthood, Nora and Hae Sung would miss each other dearly but continue with their respective lives and goals. Thanks to social media, the two would reconnect and bond remotely. Unfortunately, because Nora has her career goals as an artist and writer, and because Hae Sung has his life in Korea, a love affair seems impossible.

As a result, Nora decides to be realistic and takes a break from their long-distance relationship. They would reconnect when Hae Sung finally decides to visit Nora in America. By this time, Nora has already married an American named Arthur (John Magaro), a man who loves her dearly but fears that his wife will leave him for her former love. The reunion is quite bittersweet, as they reconnect deeply but realize their love cannot come to fruition.

With Past Lives, Celine Song has crafted a beautiful but heartbreaking masterpiece. The mixture of assured direction, outstanding writing, and excellent acting brings this fantastic film to vivid life. The song beautifully captures the longing for romance these two characters feel for one another, and the natural chemistry between actors Greta Lee and Teo Yoo makes the audience feel their pain and yearning.

Though this is not the typical blockbuster fair that people usually encounter at the cinema at this time, I nevertheless highly recommend that people support this movie by experiencing it in a theater. Powerful and personal independent films need that love and support from audiences to thrive in an era dominated by battling robots and comic-inspired superhero tentpoles. Past Lives is one of those timeless, eventual classics that will indeed be lauded for generations to come and deserves financial and critical success.

Leave a comment