Past Lives

June 16, 2023100/1006 min
Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro
Written by
Celine Song
Directed by
Celine Song
Run Time
1h 48 min
Release Date
June 16th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

           From the opening moments of Celine Song’s film Past Lives, you know you are in for something special. Sitting at a bar, we hear some people talk about three strangers across from them, as they guess their relationship with each other. Some viewers may already know their story, but for others you are one of those people having that conversation, trying to figure it  out. Very few movies live up to high praise and Past Lives has received plenty since premiering at Sundance this year, but let me tell you, you will be singing that praise as well after seeing this amazing film.

           Some time ago, about 20 years, two twelve year old’s had a special connection in South Korea, until one of them immigrated to Canada, leaving that connection behind. Nora (Greta Lee) is the one who moves away, leaving Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) behind, both moving on with the path they are left to take. Twelve years later, Nora discovers that Hae Sung has been looking for her and she reaches out to him, they decide to pick up where they left off all those years before. Soon they are skyping daily and it is not long before conversations turn to when each will come and visit where they currently live. Nora though is not ready for what is happening, knowing it would disrupt her life plan she set out to complete, so she tells Hae Sung they need to take a break from each other. That break turns into another 12 years, as both Nora and Hae Sung move on with their lives. For Nora that is getting married and continuing her goal of being a playwright, but for Hae Sung, Nora always has felt like the missing piece. Now the reunion finally happens, leaving everyone involved, including us as the viewers feeling all types of ways. Director Song, who borrows from her own life experiences for the story, turns this fictional version as an incredible character drama. This is not a Hollywood “love story”, where the two leads run into each other’s arms at the airport. Instead Past Lives is so infinitely touching,  as there are no oversized gestures, but it is filled with many small and more wonderful moments, that leave a more lasting effect. In fact the film creates a haunting truthfulness that makes you see and feel for your own past loves and the paths you did or did not take.

            For me, Past Lives is the most heartbreaking, honest, and touching portayl of romance I have seen in some time. There are no cheesy moments here, only feelings that feel real and will for sure have you drying your eyes after. As for performances, all the cast is great, but it is Lee who stands out the most, as she speaks so much without saying a thing. It was all of those performances that made me felt like Past Lives was speaking directly to me, a feeling that everyone in the audience will feel, as all of have had to leave something of us behind at one time or another. This film will make you feel things, as it is beaming with warmth and sincerity and is one of the smartest and clear-sighted romantic films you will see. This is simply a masterpiece and something that will leave its mark on you if you allow it.

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