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Romantic drama Past Lives marks the feature debut for writer-director Celine Song, who previously served as a staff writer on Prime Video series The Wheel of Time.
The decades-spanning story follows Nora and Hae Sung, who were childhood sweethearts in South Korea, and separated when Nora and her family left for the USA. They connect again years later, and it’s clear that despite being separated by time and place, they have a connection that seems destined to be addressed.
It’s a tender, honest exploration of longing, destiny, unexplored romance, regret. It’s gorgeously shot, and unfolds in a naturalistic, unrushed pace that draws you in. The film also has strong performances; Greta Lee and Teo Yoo, delivering chemistry and heartbreak – often without saying a word.
I did, unfortunately, find that the first two-thirds did need more to warrant the length of time before their inevitable in-person reunion. I would have liked the elongated emotional setup to tackle more immersive characterisation, more about their lives, to provide the finale with even more power.
Nevertheless, the final third is brilliant, bringing to the forefront the emotion that’s been bubbling up. It hits the landing beautifully.