The film opens with three people sitting at a bar. We hear a voiceover and strangers questioning their status- who’s dating who, and what kind of discussions are being had among them? One thing is sure: their relationship is awkward, emotional, and dramatic. After this opening, we are taken back to where it all began. We are introduced to two childhood friends, Nora (Moon Seung-ah) and Hae Sung (Leem Seung-min), who live in South Korea with their families. As children, the pair have a strong bond and a friendship they hope will strengthen as they grow older. Sadly, Nora’s family decides to leave South Korea and emigrate.
As time passes, we see Nora (Greta Lee) now an adult with a busy work life. After a conversation with her mother on the phone, she begins to wonder what became of some of her friends from school. Curious about Hae Sung, she tries to look up who he is currently and what career he chose. Browsing social media, she soon finds Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) and discovers he has been trying to contact her for a long time. Nora reaches out, and conversations between the two begin through the phone. Their friendship is united, eventually leading to Hae Sung travelling to New York to be reunited with Nora in person. For one week, the pair share various conversations questioning their future, past and all aspects surrounding fate.
For those unaware, Past Lives is best described as a drama with a strong touch of romance. The film is dialogue-heavy and slow-paced, as is the strong script filled with many emotional scenes and moments of heartbreak. All these factors combine to create something that feels real, natural, and believable.
Visually, I adored this film. There are many great locations and set pieces to highlight every drop of emotion and drama our leading performers present. It’s impossible not to be pulled tightly into this story and not be heavily impacted in both the mind and the heart. The Director and Writer, Celine Song, has carefully chosen camera techniques such as slow zoom-in while characters speak. Shots such as these are highly effective in building all kinds of feelings. Performances are flawless, and the outcomes are unpredictable.
Overall, Past Lives is a beautiful film with a profoundly moving story. It’s impossible not to be emotionally impacted by this film. With adorable dialogue that felt genuine, smooth captures and dramatic zoom-ins showcasing solid elements of tension and drama, Past Lives is an unforgettable experience that will hit the minds and hearts. Sure, it’s a slow-burning film, but I can’t deny it- I just wanted to take it all in and embrace the dramatic journey.