Past Lives (2023) Movie: Moving Love Story Tugs At Our Hearts

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Past Lives is a moving childhood love story that tugs at our hearts and souls. This amazing movie about American Asians narrates an emotional tale about love, loss and much more.

We never imagined that we would be watching a movie made in North America, in a predominantly Korean language, with English subtitles. But it was a good experience.

Trailer of the 2023 USA movie about the Korean tale

Official Trailer – Past Lives (2023) Movie – A24 | YouTube.

Synopsis (official summary) of the 2023 USA movie about the Korean tale

Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrest apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life, in this heartrending modern romance.

Ratings of the 2023 USA movie about the Korean tale

FM’s rating4.40/5
Rotten Tomatoes ratings as of the date97% Tomatometer & 94% Audience Score
Critics Consensus / Rotten TomatoesA remarkable debut for writer-director Celine Song, Past Lives uses the bonds between its sensitively sketched central characters to support trenchant observations on the human condition.
Audience Says / Rotten TomatoesMoving in its subtlety, Past Lives is a mature love story that feels powerfully real.
FM & Rotten Tomatoes ratings – Past Lives

Spoilers Free review of the Past Lives (2023/USA) movie

The introduction

In my first job, on one of those days, my Indian boss shared a personal life story with me. He told me, “After I got married, I accepted my fate. I forgot about my first love. Now, I have kids. And I am happily married… Such are the realities of life…” Well, that is the real-life philosophy from the Eastern part of the world.

In a way, it is a simple human tale about Koreans from North America, superbly told. And it carries the unique charm and life philosophies of the Eastern Nations of Asia. And yet, it did not seem out of place. Welcome to the new era of the Globalized World and the entertainment provided by the shrinking world by the various streaming platforms.

About its basic plotline

This latest tear-jerker movie takes us into the personal journey of both the lead characters, namely, Nora and Hae Sung in the Past Lives. It is about our identities, our culture, childhood love, personal ambitions, life choices, opportunities, immigration, loss, grief and the other hard realities of human lives. This moving timeless and universal love story tugs at our hearts and makes us emotional with its incredible storytelling.

We loved the work of its directors and actors

The writer and first-time director Celine Song has made an impressive debut with this evocative piece of film. Both the lead actors Greta Lee (plays Nora) and Teo Yoo (plays Hae Sung) have done an unbelievable job. Their eyes and silence speak a lot. And they looked the part of two forlorn lovers whose lives and fates keep them apart from each other. Actor John Magaro (who plays the role of the understanding American husband Arthur) acts in a restrained manner and the other members of the ensemble cast have also done well in it.

Beautiful cinematography & the conclusion

The cinematography in this movie is really beautiful and insightful. It was primarily shot in New York, United States of America, however, a few scenes were also filmed in Seoul, South Korea. We have also shared a featured image – a film shot in New York as well as a picture showing the young Nora and young Teo returning from their school in Seoul in the spoilers shared below. Many of its scenes made us emotional and some were tear-inducing.

It is a mature and contemporary heart-rending tale of love and loss, spanning time and continents. Go ahead and watch this slice of real life – the Past Lives.

Academy Awards, USA 2024 {Article Updated}

1. Best Original Screenplay - Celine Song - Nominee Oscar 
2. Best Motion Picture of the Year - David Hinojosa, Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler - Nominee Oscar

Spoilers Alerts – ‘In-Yun’ term, Buddhism, Reincarnation & Ending Explained

In-Yun term explained

So, what is the ‘In-Yun’ term?

According to her character Nora, every encounter between people is ‘in-yun’ but “it takes 8,000 layers of ‘in-yun'” for two people to be together in a lifetime. ‘In-yun’ is a Korean term for the fate that connects people, the idea that “we are all connected” in some ways. Perhaps, this life concept comes from Buddhism and the idea of reincarnation as it exists in Eastern life philosophy.

More about ‘In-Yun’ in the film | video clip

In-Yun explained in the Past Lives film | YouTube.

More about ‘In-Yun’ in the film | its text


There's a word in Korean... it means providence... or fate... but it's specifically about... relationships between people... I think it comes from Buddhism... and reincarnation... It's an 'In-Yun' if two strangers even walk... by each other in the street... clothes accidentally brush... cause... it means there must have been something... between them... in their past lives... We'll get married... they say it's because there have been 8000 layers of 'In-Yun'... over 8000 lifetimes... do you believe in that... believe what... You and I knew each other in another... life because... we're sitting here... at the same table in the same city at the same time yeah where did that make... this Indian um... that's just something Koreans say to seduce someone...

In-Yun is an astute and perceptive concept, indeed.

Buddhism & reincarnation concepts explained

Buddhism originated in Bihar, India / #History

Revered Siddhartha Gautama (an Indian king who gave up his kingdom to become a saint) founded Buddhism – a religious faith. He is popularly known as “the Buddha”.

It is worth noting that it happened more than 2500 years ago in the neighbouring Bihar (name derived from the Vihāra a Hindi word, which means a Buddhist monastery for Buddhist renunciates, in the Indian subcontinent) state of India.

Lord Buddha, (Bodh) Gaya, Bihar | Bihar Tourism

Buddhists embrace the concepts of karma (the law of cause and effect) and reincarnation (the continuous cycle of rebirth). You can learn more about Buddhism on the History website.

The ending of the movie is explained here

The film has a realistic and mature ending

It does not have a happy ending for two childhood lovers.

Perhaps, it has an ending that confirms the belief in the Buddhist way of life.

Hae Sung (Left) and Nora (Right) choosing a different path | Past Lives – A24.

Their childhood picture shows that both Hae and Nora choose different paths in their personal lives and move away from each other.

Similar things happen in the end too.

Perhaps their fates and destinies are different in this life.

So, according to the ‘In-Yun’ concept, they should wait for reincarnation and maybe meet in their next lives in future as the lovers.

Poster of the 2023 USA movie about the Korean tale

Past Lives – poster

Key details of the 2023 USA movie about the Korean tale

GenreDrama, Romance
Original languagesKorean & English (USA) with English subtitles
Released inJune 2023
Age-restrictionsUA (13+)
Duration1 hour 46 minutes
Writer & DirectorCeline Song (It is her directorial debut)
CastGreta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro, Moon Seung-ah, Leem Seung-min, Ji Hye Yoon, Won Young Choi, etc.
AwardsHollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards – 2023 Winner HCA Award – Best Indie Film
Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards – 2023 Winner HCA Award – Best Actress Greta Lee
Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards – 2023 Winner HCA Award – Best Screenplay Celine Song
NetworkApple TV (A24) | Prime Video
About – Past Lives (2023) movie.

Past Lives (2023) movie – official trailer | YouTube.

If you love the realistic movies about human emotions, then check out another heart-rending - A Man Called Otto movie.

Featured & Other Images: Past Lives | A24.

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