Film: Past Lives




The choices we make about the lives that we live speak to our own personal experiences in this beautifully acted love story. It opened to universal acclaim and is a shoo-in for Oscar nominations.

In her first feature film, director/writer Celine Song has based it on events in her own life. And the film becomes a meditative experience for the audience about what life might have been, had different choices been made.

Na Young and Hae Sung are 12 year old best friends. They go to school together, and become each other’s first love – but they are separated when Na Young’s parents decide to emigrate from South Korea to Canada.



Na Young becomes a writer and changes her name to Nora (Greta Lee, Russian Doll) and 12 years later moves to New York to pursue her career, while Hae Sung (Teo Yoo, Decision to Leave) finishes his mandatory military service.

She spends a lot of time talking to her mother on the internet and looking up old connections and class mates, and finds out Hae Sung has been trying to make contact with her. They reconnect on Skype and talk of meeting up again, but this doesn’t happen when Nora decides that she needs to concentrate on her career. 

Nora meets fellow writer Arthur (John Magaro, First Cow) at a writers retreat, and with much in common, they marry.



Years pass and Hae Sung puts his relationship with his girlfriend on hold and comes to New York to see Nora. The deep emotional connection is obvious. 

The three go out to dinner. Hae Sung speaks little English so much of the conversation is spoken in Korean. Arthur is largely left out of a conversation about what might have happened had Nora not left Korea.  

Three superb performances from the actors make this an achingly effective love story. The moments of silence in the film often tell more than the words.

The excellent cinematography is by Shabier Kirchner using 35mm film.



The slow-moving earlier part of the film sets up the building of emotions until unspoken feelings bring tears to the eyes of many in the audience, perhaps revisiting similar experiences in their own lives.

108 minutes.

Spoken in Korean and English languages.

Showing at Luna Leederville and Luna SX Fremantle from August 31st with advance screenings from August 25th to 27th.



Watch the trailer…