Past Lives (2023)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Twelve-year-old Na Young and Hae Sung form a bond as children that is shrouded in love while living in Korea. However, Na Young soon immigrates to Toronto, leaving no hope for a relationship between the young children. Years later, the pair find each other again through social media and seem to still have feelings for each other. However, the differences in location and culture make it difficult for them to rekindle a potential romance. Will the two young lovers ever be able to bring their love to fruition, or will they constantly be wondering as to what they may have been?

‘Past Lives’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Past Lives (2023)In Seoul, South Korea in the year 2000, Na Young (Seung Ah Moon) and Hae Sung (Seung Min Yim) are two 12-year-old classmates who develop juvenile feelings for each other while attending school together. Their respective mothers (Ji Hye Yoon and Min Young Ahn) set up a date for them at a playground. However, the blossoming romance is cut short when Na Young’s family emigrates to Toronto to begin a new life. The two children lose contact with each other although they each remember the other. Na Young struggles in her unfamiliar environment and eventually changes her name to Nora Moon.

Twelve years later, an adult Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) completes his mandatory military service for his country and sets out to make a career for himself. At the same time, Nora (Great Lee) moves to New York to develop her own career. Nora discovers on Facebook that Hae Sung has posted on her family’s page that he was looking for Na Young, unaware that Nora changed her name. The couple reconnect through video calls which they engage in nearly every day. However, the pair are unable to visit each other. Eventually, Nora tells Hae Sung that they should stop talking for a while, as she believes she needs to focus on her writing and developing her life in New York. A short time later, Hae Sung moves to China for a Mandarin language exchange, and Nora attends a writer’s retreat in Montauk. At the retreat, Nora meets Arthur Zaturansky (John Magaro), another artist. Nora and Arthur quickly fall in love. Hae Sung also meets a woman and begins to date her.

Another twelve years pass, and Arthur and Nora are now married and living in a small apartment in New York. Hae Sung has broken up with his girlfriend and finally has enough money to travel to New York. He travels to New York to visit Nora. Hae Sung and Nora display awkwardness around each other as they both still harbor affections for one another. Arthur expresses to Nora that he feels that he maybe a roadblock to Nora and Hae Sung’s imperfect love story. Arthur expresses his fears that Nora may have only married him to secure a green card to live in the United States. Nora assures her husband that she loves him.

What if this is a past life as well, and we are already something else to each other in our next life? Who do you think we are then? Hae Sung (Teo Yoo)

The next night, Nora brings Hae Sung to her home to meet Arthur. The threesome goes out to dinner together. Nora acts as a translator for the two men, but eventually she begins speaking with Hae Sung exclusively in Korean, practically ignoring her husband. Hae Sung wonders what they were to each other in their past lives. He also wonders what would have happened if she had never left South Korea and they had stayed together. When Nora leaves the bar to use the bathroom, Hae Sung apologizes to Arthur for speaking alone with Nora. Arthur accepts the apology and tells Hae Sung that he is glad to have met him.

After drinks, the three adults return to Arthur and Nora’s apartment where Hae Sung collects his bag for his flight back to Korea. Hae Sung invites them both to visit him in Sough Korea and calls for an Uber. Nora walks Hae Sung down to the street to wait for his ride. The couple share a long, meaningful look without saying anything to each other. Hae Sung wonders whether they were, at that moment, experiencing a past life, and asks Nora what their relationship will be in their next life. Nora expresses that she does not know. Hae Sung tells her that he will see her then. Hae Sung gets into the car as it pulls up and leaves. Nora walks back to her apartment where Arthur is waiting for her on the steps. Arthur embraces his wife, and she cries in his arms.

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Our Rating

A24 released Past Lives on June 2, 2023. Celine Song directed the film starring Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro.

User Rating: 3.12 ( 3 votes)
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