Summary: Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrested apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Twenty years later, they are reunited for one fateful week as they confront notions of love and destiny.

Year: 2023

Cinema Release Dates:  31st August 2023 (Australia), 6th July 2023 (Thailand), 8th September 2023 (UK), 2nd June 2023 (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: USA, South Korea

Director: Celine Song

Screenwriter: Celine Song

Cast: Stephanie Cheng (Michelle), JoJo T. Gibbs (Janice), Greta Lee (Nora), John Magaro (Arthur Zaturansky), Emily Cass McDonnell (Rachel), Seung Ah Moon (Young Nora), Federico Rodriguez (Robert), Conrad Schott (Peter), Yeon Woo Seo (Young Si Young), Kristen Sieh (Heather), Seung Min Yim (Young Hae Sung), To Yoo (Jung Hae Sung)

Running Time: 105 mins

Classification: M (Australia), TBC (Thailand), 12-A (UK), PG-13 (USA)


David Griffiths and Lee Griffiths’ Past Lives Review

David’s rating Out Of 5

Lee’s rating Out Of 5

Alex First’s Past Lives Review

They were high achieving 12-year-old friends in their native South Korea.

Then one left with her family for a new life in North America.

Past Lives is the story of the ties between the pair.

I speak of Nora (Moon Seung-ah as a child and Greta Lee as an adult) – the English name she took – and Hae Sung (Leem Seung-min and Teo Yoo).

They forged a strong bond in South Korea and who knows what could have been if she had remained there?

But as it was, she didn’t. She aspired to achieve world acclaim and became a playwright – he an engineer.

Neither forgot about each other, but they moved on with their lives.

Hae Sung tried to find her, but that wasn’t easy because she had anglicised her name.

Then after 12 years had passed, he reached out to her through her father’s Facebook page (the latter being a filmmaker).

And once they reconnected, they disconnected again … for another 12 years, before meeting face-to-face.

Also in the picture is another person of significance in Nora’s life, Arthur (John Magaro).

Past Lives is a sensitive and moving story of possibility, the essence of which is choosing one life means leaving behind another.

Celine Song’s cinematic debut makes a strong statement.

It is reflective of her own life.

One night, a few years ago, she found herself sitting at a bar sandwiched between two men from different parts of her life.

Playing both translator and middleman, she felt she was piercing through alternate dimensions.

Both men loved her … in different languages and cultures.

A mainstay as a playwright in New York Theatre, there and then Song had the inspiration for her first screenplay.

Past Lives is a well realised, slow moving, drama romance.

It asks questions about happenstance and what was meant to be.

It queries whether the person you know as a child is still the same person as an adult.

The undoubted star of the piece is Greta Lee, who is so natural in her realisation of Nora.

There are no airs, grace or pretence, rather authenticity … and that is what makes her so compelling.

Teo Yoo is more reserved in his characterisation of Hae Sung, while John Magaro also walks in Nora’s shadow, as a fellow writer.

Song is careful to take her time in revealing the full picture.

At times, I would have liked the pace to be quickened, but I also appreciated the originality she brought to bear. It looked and felt real and never deviated for this idyll.

Alex’s rating Out Of 5

Average Subculture rating Out Of 5

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