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Two old friends meet again in Celine Song's 'Past Lives'

Yong Chavez | TFC News Hollywood

Posted at Sep 13 2023 05:35 PM

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What if you truly love the one you’re with, but also care for and wonder what could have been with another person?

“Past Lives” poses this question and many more in a love story that has resonated with audiences.

Writer-filmmaker Celine Song said the pivotal opening scene of the film was partly based on her experience.

She recalled finding herself seated at a New York bar between her husband and her childhood sweetheart from South Korea, who was visiting her then after decades apart.

Critics have praised the unconventional cinematic love triangle in "Past Lives" that is both heart-wrenching and refreshing.

At its center is Nora, a playwright who has been happily married for several years to Arthur, who is meeting Hae Sung for the first time.

Greta Lee, John Magaro, and Teo Yoo have all received critical acclaim for their performances in the film.

'Past Lives' stars discuss roles in widely acclaimed film

"The way you're going to walk away is going to depend on where you are in your life," said Song about the message of the story. "Maybe you're single, maybe you're in a great relationship. Whatever that may be, I think that's the way that you're going to also walk away from the movie."

She added: "I wouldn't say there's one message. I think it’s so much more about: Okay, now that you've seen it, what do you think about your own life and what do you think about the weight of your own life in your own relationship as well?"

“Past Lives” is Song’s film directorial debut. She honed her talent as a storyteller in New York theater as a playwright.

In the film, she delves into “Inyun” — the Korean concept of the ties that bind people, the connection they make, and the persons they can become through those connections in their lifetime.

Asked if she always knew what Nora's choice would be, Song said: "Yes, because I think that I learned who Nora is. A part of Nora is somebody who stays for Arthur but I think that would not be possible if Arthur wasn't a great husband to her.

"I don't think that Nora would have stayed with Arthur if they weren't in a really good relationship," Song continued.

“Past Lives” is still showing in the United States and was recently released in the Philippines.

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Note: This interview was completed before the Hollywood writers/actors' strike.