Past Lives: Movie Review

Past Lives Movie Review: More Than the Relationship

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There's a popular phrase in the Philippines, "Walang Tapon", which resonates as a descriptor for the cinematic voyage that is "Past Lives". Translated as "nothing thrown away," it encapsulates the essence of a film where every frame, every dialogue, and every interaction serves a purpose - leaving no room for wasteful moments. Celine Song's inaugural foray into storytelling and direction is a resounding triumph - a creation where it is more than just romance and every note carries significance and every scene provides depth.

Twenty four years ago, Nora (Greta Lee) and her family left South Korea to immigrate to North America. She left her childhood sweetheart Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) behind. They lose touch but two decades later, they find themselves meeting up in New York again as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make life worthwhile. With Nora now married and Hae Sung having a life of his own in Korean, can the two finally find closure on their unfulfilled love for each other?

We won't lie, we expected to bawl our eyes out with "Past Lives. But we actually didn't get to experience crying as much as we anticipated it to be. Celine Song decides to take subtlety and authenticity at the forefront which molds the narrative into a lifelike portrayal. The script refrains from sky-high emotional scenes and dramatic one-liners - opting instead for conversations that echo the nuances of real life and real people. You'll be surprised to know then that the film is more than just about love and romance. The conversations between Nora, Hae Sung, and even Arthur (portrayed by John Magaro) reveal a narrative that has deep roots on sacrifice, immigration, finding friendship (and losing it), fulfilling dreams, and even self-reflection. It's one that doesn't force feed its viewers but rewards those who want to dive deeper. Beyond its narrative and script, Celine Song's cinematography was stunning as it visually and vividly contrasts South Korea and New York. Visuals that further enhances the cultural differences of Nora and Hae Song's worlds. The actors were masterful  as Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and even John Magaro, exuded chemistry that emanates authenticity. Their interactions brought a kind of tension that was tangible and genuine, rarely captured on screen. Few cinematic gems excel in every facet and "Past Lives" stands tall among them. This was not just a tale of love but of existing itself - a film where "Walang Tapon" is its heartbeat.

Rating: 5 reels

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