Past Lives is a 2023 romantic drama film written and directed by Celine Song in her feature directorial debut. Starring Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro, the film follows the relationship between two childhood friends over the course of 24 years, as they contemplate their relationship when they grow apart to have different lives. The plot is semi-autobiographical and inspired by real events from Song's life.[5]

Past Lives
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCeline Song
Written byCeline Song
Produced by
CinematographyShabier Kirchner
Edited byKeith Fraase
Music by
Distributed byA24
Release dates
  • January 21, 2023 (2023-01-21) (Sundance)
  • June 2, 2023 (2023-06-02) (United States)
Running time
106 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • South Korea
  • English
  • Korean
Budget$12 million[2]
Box office$19.9 million[3][4]

Past Lives had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2023, and was released theatrically in the United States on June 2, 2023. The film has received universal critical acclaim, with praise directed towards Song's writing and direction, visual style, and lead performances of Lee, Yoo, and Magaro.

Plot edit

In Seoul, South Korea, Na Young and Hae Sung are twelve-year-old classmates who develop an attraction for one another and go on a date set up by their parents. Shortly thereafter, Na Young's family emigrates to Toronto, where she changes her name to Nora Moon, and the two lose contact.

Twelve years later in 2012, Hae Sung has finished his military service and Nora has emigrated to New York City. One day, Nora discovers on Facebook that Hae Sung had commented on a post that he was looking for Na Young, unaware of her name change. They reconnect through video calls but are unable to visit each other, as Nora will attend a writer's retreat in Montauk and Hae Sung is moving to China for a language exchange. Eventually, Nora tells Hae Sung they should stop talking for a while, as she wants to focus on her writing and her life in New York. At her retreat, Nora meets Arthur Zaturansky and they fall in love. Hae Sung also meets a woman, and they begin dating.

Twelve years later, Arthur and Nora are married and living in New York. Hae Sung, now no longer with his girlfriend, goes to meet Nora there. Arthur wonders if he is a roadblock in their own imperfect love story, since he admits harboring doubts that Nora may have married him to secure a green card for US residency; Nora affirms that she loves Arthur. The following night, the three go out to dinner. Initially, Nora translates each dialogue, but eventually speaks with Hae Sung exclusively in Korean. He wonders what they were to each other in their past lives, and what would have happened if she had never left South Korea and they stayed together. When Nora goes to the bathroom, Hae Sung apologizes to Arthur for speaking alone with Nora, but Arthur says he is glad he met him.

They return to Arthur and Nora's apartment. Hae Sung invites them to visit him in South Korea and calls an Uber. Nora waits with him, and as they incessantly stare at each other, the Uber arrives. Hae Sung wonders if maybe they are currently experiencing a past life, and asks Nora what their relationship will be in their next life. She says she does not know. Hae Sung says, "I'll see you then." He leaves in the car and she walks back to her apartment, crying in Arthur's arms.

Cast edit

  • Greta Lee as Nora
    • Seung Ah Moon as young Nora
  • Teo Yoo as Hae Sung
    • Seung Min Yim as young Hae Sung
  • John Magaro as Arthur
  • Ji Hye Yoon as Nora's mom
  • Choi Won-young as Nora's dad
  • Min Young Ahn as Hae Sung's mom
  • Jojo T. Gibbs as Janice
  • Emily Cass McDonnell as Rachel
  • Federico Rodriguez as Robert
  • Conrad Schott as Peter
  • Kristen Sieh as Heather

Production edit

In January 2020, it was announced Choi Woo-shik would star in the film, with Celine Song set to direct from a screenplay she wrote, and A24 set to produce and distribute alongside Killer Films and CJ ENM.[6] In August 2021, Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro joined the cast of the film, with Yoo replacing Choi.[7]

Cinematographer Shabier Kirchner shot Past Lives on 35 mm film.[8]

Music edit

Release edit

Director Celine Song with lead actor Greta Lee at a screening of the film

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2023.[9] It was also screened at 73rd Berlin International Film Festival on February 19, 2023.[10] Later that month, StudioCanal and CJ ENM were among the distributors acquiring the international distribution rights.[11] It was the opening film for the 2023 Seattle International Film Festival.[12] Past Lives had a limited theatrical release in the United States on June 2, 2023,[13] before expanding to more theaters on June 9; it was released nationwide on June 23.[14]

It was screened at the 28th Busan International Film Festival as part of 'Korean American Special Exhibition: Korean Diaspora' on 5 October 2023.[15]

Reception edit

Box office edit

The film grossed $232,266 from four theaters in its opening weekend, an average of $55,066 per venue.[16] By its sixth weekend, the film had a running total of $8.4 million.[17]

Critical response edit

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 97% of 255 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 9.2/10. The website's consensus reads: "A remarkable debut for writer-director Celine Song, Past Lives uses the bonds between its sensitively sketched central characters to support trenchant observations on the human condition."[18] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 94 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

Manola Darhgis writing for The New York Times compared the film to French romantic cinema complimenting its restraint in the presentation of its main themes stating: "The movie’s modesty — its intimacy, human scale, humble locations and lack of visual oomph — is one of its strengths. The characters live in homes that are pleasant yet ordinary, the kind that you can imagine hanging out in, the kind you want to hang out in. There are few big, look-at-me details, though you might notice a poster for Jacques Rivette’s 1974 classic Céline and Julie Go Boating in Nora’s father’s home office in Seoul."[20] Writing in The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw was fulsome in his praise of the film comparing it to those of Richard Linklater, Noah Baumbach, and Greta Gerwig. He said of the film: "Past Lives is a glorious date movie, and a movie for every occasion, too. As ever with films like this, there is an auxiliary pleasure in wondering how much of her own past life Song has used. It's a must-see."[21] Collider ranked it number 7 on its list of the "20 Best Drama Movies of the 2020s So Far," calling it "a story that could only exist because of modern circumstances, but feels timeless in its approach. How does someone choose between two lovers, one that represents the most fruitful days of her youth, and the other someone she has grown to love as part of her reality? Celine Song examines these critical conversations through the perspective of an immigrant story."[22]

Accolades edit

Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Asia Pacific Screen Awards November 3, 2023 Best Director Celine Song Won [23]
Berlin International Film Festival February 25, 2023 Golden Bear Nominated [24]
British Independent Film Awards December 3, 2023 Best International Independent Film Celine Song, David Hinojosa, Christine Vachon, and Pamela Koffler Pending [25]
Celebration of Cinema & Television December 4, 2023 Actress Award (Film) Greta Lee Won [26]
Cinema Eye Honors January 12, 2024 Heterodox Award Past Lives Pending [27]
Deauville American Film Festival September 9, 2023 Grand Special Prize Nominated [28]
Film Fest Ghent October 21, 2023 Best Film Nominated [29]
Special Mention Greta Lee, Yoo Teo and John Magaro Won [30]
Golden Trailer Awards June 29, 2023 Best Romance "Fate" (Mark Wollen & Associates) Won [31]
Gotham Independent Film Awards November 27, 2023 Best Feature Past Lives Won [32]
Breakthrough Director Celine Song Nominated
Outstanding Lead Performance Greta Lee Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Film Awards June 30, 2023 Best Picture Past Lives Runner-up [33]
Best Indie Won
Best Director Celine Song Runner-up
Best Actor Teo Yoo Runner-up
Best Actress Greta Lee Won
Best Supporting Actor John Magaro Nominated
Best Screenplay Celine Song Won
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 15, 2023 Best Original Song — Independent Film Sharon Van Etten and Zach Dawes ("Quiet Eyes") Nominated [34][35]
Jerusalem Film Festival July 23, 2023 Best International Debut Past Lives Nominated [36]
Manaki Brothers Film Festival September 29, 2023 Golden Camera 300 Shabier Kirchner Nominated [37]
Middleburg Film Festival October 22, 2023 MFF Breakthrough Filmmaker Award Celine Song Won [38]
Miskolc International Film Festival September 9, 2023 Emeric Pressburger Prize for Best Feature Film Past Lives Nominated [39]
Sydney Film Festival June 18, 2023 Best Film Nominated [40]
Santa Barbara International Film Festival February 10, 2024 Virtuoso Award Greta Lee Won [41]

References edit

  1. ^ "Past Lives (12)". BBFC. September 15, 2023. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  2. ^ "Recent A24 Budgets are Reportedly 'Out of Control'". Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  3. ^ "Past Lives". The Numbers. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  4. ^ "Past Lives (2023)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  5. ^ "Press Notes" (PDF). A24. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  6. ^ Sneider, Jeff (January 22, 2020). "Exclusive: 'Parasite's Choi Woo-sik to Star in A24's Korean Romance 'Past Lives'". Collider. Retrieved January 11, 2023.
  7. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 2, 2021). "Greta Lee & Teo Yoo Set To Star In A24's 'Past Lives'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 11, 2023.
  8. ^ Shachat, Sarah; Hemphill, Jim (January 19, 2023). "Sundance 2023 Cinematography Survey: The Cameras and Lenses Behind 40 Narrative Films at the Fest". IndieWire. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony; Patten, Dominic (December 7, 2022). "Sundance Film Festival Lineup Set With Ukraine War, Little Richard, Michael J. Fox, Judy Blume Docs; Pics With Anne Hathaway, Emilia Clarke, Jonathan Majors; More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 11, 2023.
  10. ^ Jeon Hwa (February 21, 2023). "유태오, 선댄스 이어 베를린 환호,,"K콘텐츠 뜨거운 관심"" [Teo Yoo, cheers in Berlin following Sundance,, "K-content hot interest"] (in Korean). Ilgan Sports. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  11. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (February 24, 2023). "Sundance & Berlin Hit 'Past Lives' Scores Deals In UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Lat Am & More For A24: EFM". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  12. ^ "Seattle International Film Festival 2023 Opening Night Event". Seattle International Film Festival. May 12, 2023. Archived from the original on May 12, 2023. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 7, 2023). "A24 Dates Three For Summer: 'You Hurt My Feelings', 'Past Lives' & 'Talk To Me'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 7, 2023.
  14. ^ Balderston, Michael (June 7, 2023). "Past Lives: release date, trailer, cast, reviews and everything we know about the movie". What to Watch. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  15. ^ Liz Shackleton (October 2, 2023). "Busan Film Festival Back On Track With Star Power & Strong Line-up Following Management Turmoil". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 7, 2023.
  16. ^ "Domestic 2023 Weekend 22". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  17. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 9, 2023). "'Insidious: The Red Door' Slams On 'Indiana Jones' With $32M+ Opening – Sunday AM Box Office Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 9, 2023.
  18. ^ "Past Lives". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved November 4, 2023.  
  19. ^ "Past Lives". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  20. ^ Manola Darghis, The NY Times. "Past Lives Review". June 1, 2023. [1]
  21. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (September 6, 2023). "Past Lives review – a must-see story of lost loves, childhood crushes and changing identities". the Guardian. Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Frater, Patrick (November 3, 2023). "Perfect Days' Wins Best Film at Asia Pacific Screen Awards as Japan, Korea, Kazakh Titles Dominate". Variety. Retrieved November 5, 2023.
  24. ^ Ramachandran, Naman; Vivarelli, Nick (January 23, 2023). "Berlin Film Festival Reveals Competition Lineup (Updating Live)". Variety. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  25. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (November 2, 2023). "Jodie Comer, Paul Mescal Score Nods as 'Rye Lane,' 'Scrapper', 'All of Us Strangers' Lead British Independent Film Awards Nominations". Variety. Retrieved November 2, 2023.
  26. ^ "The Critics Choice Association Announces Honorees for the Celebration of Cinema & Television: Honoring Black, Latino and AAPI Achievements – Critics Choice Awards". Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  27. ^ Carey, Matthew (October 19, 2023). "'The 1619 Project,' 'Nothing Lasts Forever' Lead Charge As Cinema Eye Honors Announces First Round Of Documentary Nominations [Full List]". Deadline. Retrieved November 17, 2023.
  28. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (September 9, 2023). "Shane Atkinson's Dark Comedy 'LaRoy' Wins Top Awards at Deauville Festival". Variety. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  29. ^ Aerts, Ruben (September 21, 2023). "Film Fest Gent verwelkomt 25 unieke kortfilms, Fien Troch en 'Poor things'". De Standaard (in Dutch). Retrieved October 9, 2023.
  30. ^ "'Los delincuentes' by Rodrigo Moreno and music from 'Poor Things' grab top prizes at 50th edition Film Fest Gent". Film Fest Gent. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  31. ^ Pedersen, Erik (June 29, 2023). "Golden Trailer Awards: Cocaine Bear, Only Murders In The Building & Oppenheimer Among Top Winners – Full List". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 30, 2023. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  32. ^ Lewis, Hilary (October 24, 2023). "'Past Lives,' 'A Thousand and One' and 'All of Us Strangers' Top Gotham Awards Film Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  33. ^ Anderson, Erik (June 30, 2023). "Hollywood Critics Association 2023 Midseason HCA Awards: 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,' 'Past Lives,' 'Air' are Top Winners". AwardsWatch. Archived from the original on July 1, 2023. Retrieved July 2, 2023.
  34. ^ Grein, Paul (November 2, 2023). "Songs From 'Barbie' Pace 2023 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Nominations (Full List)". Billboard. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  35. ^ "2023 HMMA WINNERS AND NOMINEES". Hollywood Music In Media Awards. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  36. ^ Brown, Hannah (June 28, 2023). "2023 Jerusalem Film Fest announces international movie lineup". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  37. ^ Manaki, Manaki (September 11, 2023). "OFFICIAL SELECTION "CAMERA 300"NARRATIVE FEATURES". Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  38. ^ Davis, Clayton (October 23, 2023). "Cord Jefferson's 'American Fiction' Wins Audience Award at Middleburg Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  39. ^ "FESTIVALS: CineFest Miskolc International Film Festival 2023 Announces Lineup". FilmNewEurope. August 17, 2023. Retrieved September 4, 2023.
  40. ^ Frater, Patrick (May 9, 2023). "Sydney Film Festival Unveils Bumper Lineup for 70th Edition". Variety. Retrieved July 26, 2023.
  41. ^ "Lily Gladstone, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Greta Lee, Charles Melton to be Honored at Santa Barbara International Film Festival with Virtuoso Award". AwardsWatch. November 16, 2023. Retrieved November 18, 2023.

Further reading edit

External links edit