Onto the next release of the weekend and yesterday night, I made one of the best decisions of the weekend to watch the new English/Korean film Past Lives which is now available in a theatre near you. There has been a lot of buzz around the film for all the good reasons and I really wished to know what Past Lives had to offer.
I am currently in a happy life phase(touchwood) which is devoid of any heartbreaks. But a while back, I was almost pitted against an unknown beast of a heartbreak that just wouldn’t let go of me. I did try focusing on other things, writing, reading, talking to people and even binge watching different contents across globe, yet that fearful beast did lay dormant deep down in my heart, only to wake up every now and then. Falling in love might be easy but to unlearn and get out of a relationship is one of the hardest battles that could ever be fought. And this was my battle! Some things at times aren’t meant to be, at times due to distance, due to ill fated time or due to different ambitions in life. But then does love really fizzle out, or is it similar to the beast that stays dormant deep within you? With deep hope, I ventured into Past Lives and it turned out to be one of the most heartfelt pieces of art that I have watched all year!
Story & Screenplay
Past Lives follows the story expanding across generations where two individuals deeply connected by friendship to begin with come to terms with the concept of love in contrasting manners. Will fate give them another chance? The story here is painfully relatable and one of the most beautiful pieces of writing that I have witnessed all year. It did feel so personal right from the conversations to the smaller mannerisms that touched my heart from start to finish! The screenplay standing at just 95 minutes does make for a brisk watch that is taut and something that left me gently smiling while leaving me broken at the end!
The drama is bittersweet right from the beginning where a frame pans into three characters sitting by the bar, with two of them talking. It was almost from a bystander glance wherein you could form your judgements on which two people were partners and who was the odd one out. Soon, the drama does cut to a flashback wherein you are introduced to the two protagonists who are still in their childhood and haven’t quite discovered love for one another. A twist of fate separates the two of them, and as they say the person who leaves is never quite sad. It is the person who is left behind that carries the burden in his heart.
The proceedings are compelling and painfully relatable particularly when the two of them meet again with a twist of fate. But for love to conquer, mountains need to be moved and soon they are separated by distance. There is a beautiful philosophy integrated in the drama(hence the title Past Lives) which is beautifully equated to Karma in so many ways. At this point, you know exactly where the drama is headed and it was almost like a seething wound waiting to puncture your heart. It was painstaking and gut-wrenching given that I have been there and done that, like is the case with one of the characters in the film. But to unlearn is the hardest part and it does take a fair amount of time for acceptance to set in. This while you hope for a miracle against hope.
The writers do a fabulous job in showcasing the different cultures through the two languages. The different lifestyles and way of living is so well communicated to the viewer that it tugs the strings of your heart. Holding onto your past can also affect your present, and this theme is also beautifully woven in the screenplay. Often it is a wharf of perfume or certain aspects of the person that you seek in another individual which often does lead to disappointment. And that again was so well showcased here.
Sometimes, you do keep questioning the fate whereas the reality is that it isn’t meant to be(probably due to Karma from your past lives). The film does make you fall in love with some wonderfully written characters and I could picture myself as one of them very distinctly(and eerily in every aspect). The ending just broke me all over again though I did have a smile on my face that was integrated with acceptance. What is yours will find a way to you, what isn’t never was earlier too! What a beautifully penned screenplay, perhaps the best that I have witnessed all year!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are heartfelt and rooted to reality wherein these were the conversations that I had had at some point of my life with “someone”. It was relatable and just meditative. The music has a layer of melancholy that is painful and it slowly pierces your heart. The BGM is soothing and tearful that is beautiful and bittersweet at the same time. The cinematography is brilliant often utilizing the space between the two individuals so well. The gap often was representative of them being close yet far apart that did sum up the drama beautifully.
There is honestly something when it comes to women telling stories of love. It is layered with sensitivity and almost allows you to look from the other person’s point of view as well irrespective of the gender. And that is what Celine Song does! She tactfully creates moments which aren’t flamboyant bit instead heartfelt and rooted to reality. And I am sure so many would be able to resonate with this moving piece of heart!
The performances are wonderful here. John Magaro as Arthur delivers a dignified act that showcases his vulnerability wonderfully well. He was well restrained in a wonderful job done. Greta Lee as Nora is absolutely brilliant holding a plethora of emotions within her while waking up with a smile everyday. Somewhere deep inside her is a sense of regret of what her life would turn out to be had she taken certain life changing decisions. Her cry at the end will break your heart. Yoo Teo as Hae Sung is probably the one character that I related to the most. Having always found myself in his shoes, I could say that his mannerisms and body language were just spot on. There was a mountain of pain that he was carrying within him but often being less expressive in his conversations. The penultimate scene just summed up his character perfectly – the move that didn’t quite come in time before the cab! His eyes did speak a thousand words and it was the most painfully beautifully performance that I have witnssed all year!
Past Lives is one of the most heartfelt and relatable romances ever in what is the film of the year for me! Achingly beautiful and painfully gut-wrenching. Available in a theatre near you and Highly Highly Highly Recommended!