[Past Lives], directed by Celine Song, USA 2023, 106'
Past Lives is a love story that redefines the rules of film romance with lightness and grace, which delighted the audiences at Sundance, Berlinale, and New Horizons film festivals, as well as Studio A24 fans. It is an ultimately contemporary film that heals broken hearts, gives love a chance, reconciles the past with the future, and teaches us to part without anger and with hope for a new beginning.
Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) grew up together in South Korea. Separated as children, they find each other years later through social media. Eventually, a love and migrant odyssey leads them both to New York. The chance for happiness together seems to have passed once and for all. They keep, however, silently asking themselves What if...?
Past Lives evokes the spirit of Richard Linklater’s trilogy and the best New York-based film stories. It stretches between New York and Seoul, modern technology and longed-for human touch, memories and the present. In the background, echoes of Buddhist reflection on destiny and the spiritual dimension of relationships can be heard. Such references are not coincidental: the director of Past Lives comes from South Korea. Celine Song built her magical debut – another hit of Studio A24, hailed by American critics as the best film of the year – around her own memories. The result is an extraordinary story of love, lost hopes and new opportunities, and that elusive longing for a past life carried within by each of us.