August 9 & 10

August 9 – 10

7 pm Nightly
Rated PG — 1 hr 46 min
Romantic Comedy

Past Lives is a delicately sad romantic drama that follows two childhood friends who share a wistful kind of love across two decades and two continents. It begs the question: When do you know a relationship is real? Is it when you exchange glances that last a little too long so you can stare into each other’s eyes? Is it when you can’t stop talking to each other? Is it when you two do something together that feels more special than usual? Or is it when domesticity has set in, and you’re lying next to your partner discussing dinner plans? Past Lives explores the tender feelings of relationships at various stages, from budding playground crushes to adulthood’s alleged certainty. It’s the kind of nuanced movie that allows for self-reflection as well as entertainment.

Celine Song’s feature debut is a masterclass in storytelling. A playwright before jumping into film, her focus is visually and narratively on Nora and Hae Sung, making the world around them seem to dreamily melt around them when they’re in each other’s company. While it is first and foremost a love story, Past Lives ventures beyond romantic yearning and burning questions. For Song, it’s also the chance to express feelings about the immigrant experience.

Past Lives is both achingly romantic and earnestly philosophical. It takes a romantic view of the if-thens of what could have been, enjoying them like sandcastles washed away by time. We can delight in the memories of our past lives while acknowledging the loss of childhood things left behind, roads never taken, and relationships that were never meant for us. Compressing two decades into barely two hours, it’s the most affecting love story in ages. It ends with a curiously hopeful image, focused less on the characters’ past regrets and more on the infinite possibilities still ahead.

Celine Song

Greta Lee, Teo Yoo and John Magaro