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  • Writer's pictureJack Aling

Past Lives - Review

Would I Still Have Looked For You?

4.5 / 5

The Guardians of the Galaxy team line up

Directed by Celine Song

Two childhood friends are separated after one’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one week as they confront notions of destiny, love and the choices that make a life.


"What if?" is a question that haunts Past Lives. It's a question we all think of time and again but sits as the central theme of this delicate and beautiful film as Nora and Hae Sung are forced to confront 'what could have been' after Nora emigrates from South Korea as a child and they reunite 20 years later.


Celine Song pulls from her own experiences to craft a story about connection and the significance of In-Yun: a Korean word for reincarnation which offers hope as the anchor at the centre of this melancholic film. It takes what could have been a typical story of complicated love, building on the animosity of the central conflict. Instead, it plays a more mature and hauntingly realistic approach especially as the film gently approaches its final act and decision point.


A beautifully acted, directed and crafted film whose message weaves and attaches itself to the audience's own experiences only adding to its cathartic nature. There is a hard cut in one of the final scenes that might be one of the most effective editing choices I've seen in years.


A subtle and devastating cinematic personification of yearning.

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