Past Lives Review: Celine Song's Debut Is Soulful, Tender, Devastating [Sundance]

Writer-director Celine Song’s characteristic debut, Past Lives, is completely gorgeous. The movie’s story is straightforward, however there’s a lot magnificence in its layers, its performances, and the heart-wrenching and deeply shifting connection between its lead characters. Past Lives is extremely emotional; it touches on how the passage of time, distance, and totally different life can not break a robust bond, although it may have an effect on the character of the connection.

Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) are childhood associates in Korea. However, they’re compelled to half methods when Nora’s household immigrates to Canada. Twenty-four years later, Hae Sung visits New York City the place Nora is now making a dwelling as a playwright. Twelve years prior, Hae Sung and Nora briefly reconnected on-line earlier than they stopped speaking. Now of their mid-30s, Nora and Hae Sung can’t deny they’re drawn collectively like a moth to a flame. They reminisce about their childhood whereas attending to know the individuals they’ve develop into all these years later.

Past Lives examines the bond between two associates who as soon as had crushes on one another. Circumstances and totally different life experiences have modified them, however there’s nonetheless one thing significant that retains them tethered to at least one one other. The movie is mild and touching in its exploration of what if and what might have been. Song develops Nora and Hae Sung so fantastically; what they imply to one another scares them each, however they’re open and weak in a means they aren’t with others. On a deeper stage, Nora and Hae Sung see in each other the youngsters they was, whereas respecting one another as adults. They deliver out totally different sides to their respective personalities that may in any other case go unexplored.

Song brilliantly crafts a poignant story that may pull on the heartstrings. The movie might have simply develop into overly sappy, however Song’s directing is restrained however effervescent, daring but tender. The story ebbs and flows like a candy melody, one which is filled with longing and untapped potential for its characters. Past Lives is meditative, bringing the viewers alongside for Nora and Hae Sung’s journey, permitting time to ponder what they’re seeing. The movie takes its time, steadily laying out the story whereas offering the chance for viewers to actually really feel the depth of emotion at each flip.

The craftsmanship displayed all through Past Lives is extraordinary, and Song lovingly brings the narrative to life with mild touches — pregnant pauses linger between Nora and Hae Sung that show all the things that goes unsaid, whereas a give attention to their longing, electrical appears to be like deliver the emotional weight of the story to the forefront. The movie’s consideration to craving and romance is magnificent, and its acknowledgment of actuality because it pertains to time and the way totally different circumstances can change the course of two individuals’s lives is large and considerate.

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