Celine Song’s “Past Lives” delves into the complexities of relationships, from childhood crushes to adult certainties. The film follows Na Young and Hae Sung, who initially connect as young friends in South Korea before life takes them to different countries. Over the span of years, their lives diverge, only to intersect again in adulthood. The narrative focuses on their emotional journey, marked by Skype calls, unsent emails, and shared moments that encapsulate the essence of their connection.
Director Celine Song, a former playwright, skillfully portrays the couple’s dynamic, using visuals and dialogues to emphasize their bond. The camera captures their intimate expressions and environments, highlighting their deep connection even from a distance. The film’s shift between settings, from Seoul to New York City, mirrors the characters’ evolving relationship.
Beyond its romantic core, “Past Lives” also explores themes of immigration and cultural identity. Nora, formerly Na Young, grapples with her Korean heritage in her new life in New York with her husband Arthur. The film highlights the influence of their shared background on Nora and Hae Sung’s connection, showcasing how past experiences shape present relationships.
Actors Greta Lee and Teo Yoo bring authenticity to their roles, embodying the characters’ emotions and history. Their unspoken interactions convey a depth of connection that resonates with audiences. The film’s blend of nostalgia, love, and regret evokes comparisons to classics like “In the Mood for Love” and “Before Sunrise,” but maintains its unique voice through Song’s direction.
In the end, “Past Lives” offers a romanticized exploration of missed opportunities and the poignant beauty of memories. It invites viewers to reflect on the roads not taken and the relationships that shape our lives, even when they remain unrealized.