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Past Lives by Celine Song: A Love Letter to Her Past

Updated: 5 days ago

Past Lives Movie Poster

After Anatomy of a Fall, my mind opened up to movies without conventional story structures. Past Lives is one such movie that does not have a Big Bad, has an atypical love story, and a surprising ending.

Past Lives by Celine Song revolves around the relationship of two childhood friends who get to reconnect after several years and find they still feel connected even though both of them have moved on in life.

The Plot of Past Lives by Celine Song

Past Lives delves into reincarnation, specifically, the bond that two people share throughout many rebirths/lives in the past. In Korean culture, In-Yun is the inter-connectedness one feels with another in the present due to many interactions with the individual throughout several lives lived before.

Therefore the chance encounters that people experience with other individuals are not random occurrences, but the universe's way of showing they meant something to you in a past life.

Such a concept is related to the Hindu concept of Karma where you are reincarnated several times before you achieve salvation and escape the cycle of rebirths.

Celine Song has made this beautiful (semi) auto-biographical movie to underscore the connection one feels with another person even through large expanses of time.

The film is slow and deliberate, taking its time with the story it tells the viewers, which is quite touching and deeply meaningful. I also appreciate the movie's romanticism and its staying away from unnecessary drama, which filmmakers love to lean into these days.

What I take away from this movie is that you shouldn't get hung up on any particular idea or goal in life. It's best to go with the flow and use the energy of the universe to guide you in finding and fulfilling your purpose in life. Another way to interpret it would be, that if something is meant to be yours, it will be.

The Cast

The cast of Past Lives by Celine Song is everything with Greta Lee and Teo Yoo as Nora Moon and Hae Sung, the eternal lovers, and John Magaro as Arthur the husband in Nora's current life.

Lee and Yoo dole out amazing performances as childhood friends whose connections transcend the menial obstacles of distance and time.

Even the child actors Leem Seung-min and Moon Seung-ah, the younger versions of the star-crossed lovers, do a spectacular acting job.

John Magaro does an admirable job of portraying Nora's husband and helps in depicting a husband who is self-aware and supports his wife no matter what.


Even though it didn't have to be amazing, the cinematography is well done with Celine Song showing us the beauty of Korea, and Canada and of staying in the moment.

Nora and Arthur in a beautiful long shot of a landscape

The scenes where Nora meets Arthur at a writer's retreat are done especially well.

Also, the scenes where Nora gets to meet her childhood sweetheart in her city of residence after several years are quite brilliant. You see both of them comfortable with each other and taking in each other's presence with every moment.

Should You Watch It? Yes!

This film is a must-watch for anyone who has been in love, wants to be in love, or recovering from love. More importantly, I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in great storytelling, cinematography, and other good stuff associated with movie-making.

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