Past Lives (2023) (2023)
July 2, 2023 2:27 AM - Subscribe

Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrested apart after Nora's family emigrates from South Korea. Twenty years later, they are reunited for one fateful week as they confront notions of love and destiny (IMDB). Written and directed by Celine Song in her feature directorial debut.

NPR: Past Lives is both achingly romantic and earnestly philosophical. More than once Nora and Hae Sung use the Korean term inyun, a Buddhist-derived concept which suggests that every meeting between two souls is the product of countless interactions or near-interactions in their past lives.

The Guardian: Since its debut at Sundance in January, Past Lives has accrued slow-rolling, deserved hype – as the year’s first great movie, as an achingly effective love story, as a rare emotionally mature adult film somewhere between the romantic and the platonic. (I’ll add that, secondary to the delicate narrative, Song’s depiction of New York is the most lived-in, tangible and vibrant, that I’ve seen in ages.)

Vox: Past Lives is a miraculous little film from A24, steady and slow and haunted, in the existential sense, by possibilities. Every life choice is an opening of a door into the future — but going through one door means choosing not to enter another, a fact we rarely grasp when we’re young. The older we get, the more the unopened doors shimmer in memory, ghostly reminders of the lives we might have led. The people we might have been. The people we might have been with. Hollywood Critics Association 2023 Midseason Nominations. Past Lives received seven HCA nominations. The A24 film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress for Greta Lee, Best Actor for Teo Yoo, Best Supporting Actor for John Magaro, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Indie Film.

Official Trailer
posted by kbar1 (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I’m posting as both a recommendation and to hear others’ thoughts. The reviews shared above reference the couple, but the movie is about three adults. I suppose it’s a love triangle, but it’s not presented as a trope. No villains. No betrayal. Lots of open communication. I thought it was beautiful.
posted by kbar1 at 2:42 AM on July 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

This was so beautiful and fresh. It was wonderful to be surprised by the movie bypassing all of the love triangle tropes, and doing it with so much love and gentleness. The husband (Arthur) was the quiet MVP of the movie, both as a character and an actor. He stole so many scenes with his self-deprecating goofiness. Greta Lee is a babe.
posted by Rora at 6:36 PM on July 4, 2023 [1 favorite]

Past Lives is my favorite movie of the decade so far. The writing is amazing; some of the lines are just beautiful. Paraphrasing from memory: "I liked you for who you are; and who you are is a person who leaves. But for him, you're the person who stays." "What if this is a past life?" just wrecked me. No bad guys here. Hae-Sung doesn't try to hurt Nora and Arthur's marriage. Arthur won't do anything to keep Nora from her childhood friend. Nora wants to honor her friendship and her marriage. No one does anything wrong but everyone aches. Best movie I've seen in ages.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:15 AM on July 8, 2023 [3 favorites]

I liked you for who you are; and who you are is a person who leaves. But for him, you're the person who stays.

This part had me crying, as I think it showed they finally understood their place in the relationship and it wasn't the current.

Worth a watch and I'm glad I caught it in the theater as I enjoyed how it was shot and presented.
posted by bacalao_y_betun at 9:11 AM on July 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

No one does anything wrong but everyone aches.

That's an excellent summary.

I really enjoyed this, to the extent you can enjoy a quiet film about people who are upset by unfortunate circumstance. I was moved by the underlying idea that you are not the same person at 36 that you were at 12 or 24. And for the various people you meet along the way, they know you as a different person from those who met you at a different time.

My wife and I have been together since I was 14. I am now 47. We have had the unusual privilege of re-meeting each other multiple times over the last 30 years. Neither of us is the same person that we were when we met, or when we got married, or when our first kid was born, etc. etc.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:53 PM on July 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

A masterpiece. Casted to perfection. As much about the trauma of immigration as it was about the more obvious themes of romantic love.

Arthur is the menschiest husband who ever mensched. And his Korean is good. Best supporting actor turn right there.

In the top films of this decade, absolutely.
posted by edithkeeler at 5:51 AM on July 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

Greta Lee is such a wonderful actor! I've seen her in Russian Doll, What We Do In the Shadows and now a star turn in Past Lives. I love watching her.
This story resonates in lots of different directions. I love how it shows childhood friendship/love and how we share pieces of our souls with those people.
This film is notable for its quietness and the beautiful long takes with lots of time for feelings to grow.
posted by Lookinguppy at 12:09 PM on August 4, 2023 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't want to be Arthur.
posted by Klipspringer at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

"But for him, you're the person who stays," was a great line. I liked that in the final shot they got to re-do their goodbye; I like that she is able to cry again.

The score is working hard in this movie, and it's cinematic.

Despite its emotional intelligence, it felt too clean to me, too perfect; so it veered back towards feeling immature and shallow. The acting and casting are very good, but I found myself kind of not caring about the characters.
posted by fleacircus at 5:05 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]

This was Best Picture, to me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:26 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]

Absolutely Best Picture for me, too.

“Poor Things” and “Anatomy of a Fall” were also fantastic.
posted by edithkeeler at 3:01 AM on January 30

Finally saw this....there's a Youtuber I follow, someone who discusses the weird world of film awards and how they impact film, and he has been raving about this since he saw it at Sundance. Now I know why.

If Oppenheimer hadn't already been out there and looking like an obvious frontrunner I'd be gunning hard for this as Best Picture. This was lovely - the conversations between Nora and Arthur are some of the realest dialogue I've heard in a film in a long time.

Nora's line to Hae Sung - that she's not that 12-year-old girl any more, and that she "left that girl behind with you" in Korea - just reminded me of the flip-side of that: that line from Stand By Me - "I've never had any other friends like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anybody?" The relationships you form when you're 12 are intense and life-altering - and if it's a young love, it's all the more so.

(I had a Hae Sung. We were in the same Sunday School class, and bonded pretty tight and always caught up talking before and after class, and it got to the point that other kids started teasing us, and we pulled away from each other after that. I didn't even realize I'd had a crush on him until years later. ....Then when I was sixteen he came up to talk to me once after church - he went to a different high school so this was the only place I'd see him - and right when we were starting to get flirty each of our parents called us to take us to our respective homes. That was nearly 40 years ago and I still regret not stopping him to get his phone number or something.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:24 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

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