Past Lives (2023)
Meta and self-aware, this masquerading interloper of Korean cinema is not the whole shebang I was led to believe. Neither as compelling or challenging as I was both hoping for and, to be honest, expecting too.
Leaning, at least tangentially, into a more delicate New York postcard story, the cinematography really shines best in the Big Apple, whereas we feel we are getting little more than lip-service when it comes to Seoul and South Korea in general. And yes, it makes sense as New York is easy to love and less culturally startling, maybe, for the general viewer. If you're expecting this years' Parasite, then you're just over-reaching really.
This is regularly endearing and poignant, dealing with the twenty-four year gap in a relationship between a young twelve-year-old girl and her innocent childhood sweetheart. She moved to the States with her parents and he stayed in Korea, crestfallen and heartbroken even then, serving his military duties and becoming an engineer.
The film encompasses regret for a lost love and sadness even in resignation, how the start of something never had the chance to blossom. It's highly emotive and delicately delivered as everyone involved ponders a life that never was but easily could have been and we often question the fate of these two main characters.
Ultimately sweet and unpredictable by its conclusion, this is ostensibly a well-crafted and well-paced long-distance love story that will maybe make you think about past lives of your own and what may have been, for good or bad. Recommended.