Past Lives

Celine Song, South Korea, USA, 2023o


Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrest apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life.

Who hasn't experienced this? An intimate friendship or secret love from childhood days that still resonates decades later and of which one sometimes wonders what would have become of it had one not lost sight of each other. At least that's what happens to the heroine of Celine Song's directorial debut Past Lives, who - just like the director - followed her parents from Seoul to Canada when she was ten years old, and in her mid-thirties - almost like the director - lives in New York as a hopeful playwright and wife of an American professional colleague. Only, in the case of the film's heroine, it doesn't stop at the silent question. 24 years after the separation and 12 years after an intensive chat phase, the childhood sweetheart is back on the doorstep and asks, hesitantly at first, then more and more unmistakably, the question of fate: What was that then, what is it now? After a dutifully narrated opening, Song embarks on this exploration of conflicting emotions with impressive sincerity and a sense of nuance, relying on a fantastic cast: It's been a long time since we've seen the tumult of emotions behind captured facades in such a forceful and multi-layered way. And it's been a long time since it's been so aesthetically pleasing: the settings, color scheme, camerawork and editing of Past Lives are a delight. Finally, the title transforms from evocation of the past to evocation of the future with the last sentence of the final encounter. Wow.

Andreas Furler


Movie Datao

Drama, Romance
Running time
106 Min.
Original languages
Korean, English
ØYour rating8.1/10
IMDB user:
8.1 (24774)
< 10 votes
< 3 votes q

Cast & Crewo

Greta LeeNora
Yoo TeoHae Sung
John MagaroArthur
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