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NZIFF: Past Lives


  • Sat 19 Aug 2023, 5:30pm




Listed by

Lisa Feyen

Celine Song’s gorgeous, intensely bittersweet romance ruminates on the lives and loves of two childhood friends fleetingly reunited after decades apart –a remarkable debut feature that was the talk of Sundance.

Past Lives is a deeply moving tale of past and future desires, with great affection for its syncopated characters.
Classmates in late 90s Seoul, Na Young and Hae Sung are inseparable, and quite sure of their feelings for one another. But when Na Young’s family abruptly emigrates to America, 12 years pass before Hae Sung is able to track down Nayoung (now living in New York and going by Nora) via Facebook.
It’s another 12 years until he books a flight to see her. Their days walking and talking around Manhattan shimmer with pensive transience, writer-director Song’s screenplay skilfully holding emotional breathing space between the film’s simple yet expressive passages of dialogue.
Although both its title and characters refer to “In Yun”—a Korean concept of fated connection between two people in a past life—Song’s film gently eschews the true love clichés of destiny and circumstance. Its final scenes, pitch-perfect in their aching certainty, will have you grasping for air—and tissues, too.
Rated M

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