As kids, there’s always one who permeates our young heart leaving a open wound. A wound begging to be healed with just one more look, one more glance or one more hug. We feel there’s a comfort in reconnecting with someone who knew your soul and heart before life got in the way. It’s like reuniting with a warm hug feeling safe and understood in a way like no other.
Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) were deeply connected childhood friends. A connection that was unexpectedly interrupted as Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea to America. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life.
Past Lives director Celine Song, creates a romantic drama which sears the soul while begging the question how do you let go of the one person you feel destined to spend eternity. It’s emotionally gripping with scenes where Nora and Hae Sung don’t say one wordy gazing into each other’s eyes as if they’re silently reading each other’s mind. They clearly have a soulmate communication that no one can crash – not even Nora’s husband, Arthur (John Magaro). Magaro, by the way, straddles the line perfectly of a husband feeling threatened, yet enduring it all for the woman he loves.
Greta Lee and Teo Yoo are nothing short of magnificent as Nora and Hae Sung. Each struggling to find their identities, Nora, assimilates to an American name fed up with the alienation and ridicule one endures coming to a new country while simultaneously struggling with the lane of writing she desires to conquer. While Hae Sung is still hung up on Nora finding it near impossible to move on romantically. His dogmatic maneuvers to see her face to face to determine if what he ‘s feeling is simply a 12 year-old fantasy or something that can be tangible and real.
Lee and Yoo are perfection. They say everything and nothing all at once as audiences root for them despite the odds. Yoo’s portrayal of Hae Sung is so vulnerable and sweet, as he entices you to reach right into the screen and hug him. Lee is spot on spectacular and riveting as a woman conflicted between her past and present, which could ultimately determine her future.
This film will resonate with every human being who has ever been in love, had a crush or felt the awkwardness of seeing someone you were fond of after many years have passed. Celine Songs’ direction is gentle, yet straight forward pinging an arrow into the heart of anyone lucky enough to see this film crafted with her beautiful and brilliantly with writing that sings and soars through the soul.
With A24′ major success from the Oscar winning Everything Everywhere All At Once, Past Lives may prove to be their second act follow up and completely well deserved on every visceral level.