Past Lives I Review by: Benjamin Garrett
In her directorial debut, Celine Song asks a simple, yet profoundly affecting question - What if you reconnected with your soulmate, years after you built a life of your own with someone else? Past Lives is a moving portrait of lost love, showing the ways in which someone from your past can play a pivotal role in shaping the present and future versions of yourself.
This is not a Hallmark romance. There are no sweeping romantic gestures that’ll make your heart flutter. This movie rarely gives you what you might be hoping for, and is all the better for it. This is a deliberate slow burn, taking the necessary time to develop a complex relationship between two people who come and go from each others’ lives over the course of two decades. It’s grounded, and everything about it comes through as raw and genuine.
That’s especially true regarding each of the characters. Nora and Hae Sung are written with a beautiful kind of maturity you rarely see in films like this. This is just as much a story about them as individuals as it is about their relationship and what they mean to each other. Nora’s husband, Arthur feels especially complex, given the way he factors into the dynamic. Films often diminish these kinds of character to simple villainous roles - an obstacle in the way of true love. Not here, though. Arthur is written just as thoughtfully, being every bit as important to this story as Nora and Hae Sung.
Past Lives is powerful in the subtlest of ways, rewarding viewers’ patience with an emotional climax that’ll leave you in tears. It’s an affecting, mature and grounded directorial debut from Celine Song, with three strong performances that bring these beautifully realized characters to life.
Review by: Benjamin Garrett
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