'Past Lives' Review: Immigrant Tale Explores the Foundations of Love and Fate

There's a unique emotional displacement that happens to people who migrated when they were old enough to have forged memories of life in their homeland but still young

enough to be remolded by a new environment. As the years mount, and you become someone else somewhere else, that previous existence, now so distant from your current reality,

begins to fade into a corner of your subconscious covered in the cobwebs of nostalgia. But what of the people left behind, for whom you exist only as a frozen memory of

somebody that you used to be? And if such a person, who only knew that now-nonexistent version of you, re-entered your life today, who would you be to each other? Former friends

turned strangers? Living proof of who you both once were and of the moments lost to time? In her first foray into film, South Korean-born playwright Celine Song has given a

cinematic body to such a collection of elusive yearnings stemming from the what-ifs that plague our lives. Inspired by her own accounts of separation and reconnection across

continents, "Past Lives" is an exquisitely wistful drama that speaks with an honesty so affectingly crisp it will turn your conceptions of love, identity and fate on their

head. "Past Lives" opens with a shot featuring three people at a bar chatting intently. A voice off camera ponders the relationship between the three of them before we

travel back 24 years in the past to Seoul and begin unveiling the not so clear-cut answer. There, Na Youn, a 12-year-old girl, and her close male friend Hae Sung are on a final

playdate at a gorgeous sculpture garden before she and her family migrate to Canada.