There are many types of trailers, but my favorites are always those that make me instantly declare the film as my personality within a quick sneak peek. This is one of them.
After the genre-bending, Oscar-nominated “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” chaotic slasher “Pearl,” and more from their diverse 2022 catalog, every film student’s favorite studio A24 is bound to mess us up again. This time, it’s through a romantic drama.
A24 has dropped the full-length trailer of “Past Lives,” the directorial debut of Korean-Canadian playwright Celine Song, who recently earned praise for her adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” in Sims 4 and is known for writing “Endlings”.
The concept of fate is a usual theme in many contemporary romance films, but there’s something in the trailer of “Past Lives” that, as the rest of the internet said, already makes us mysteriously drawn to it. Is it the apparent emotional depth? Is it the meditative atmosphere?
Right off the bat, the trailer already informs us on “In-Yun,” which means “providence” or “fate”. “That’s just something Koreans say to seduce someone,” Nora (Greta Lee of “Russian Doll”) quips, after her American husband Arthur (John Magaro of “First Cow”) asks her if she believes in it.
Eventually, we witness that this topic doesn’t only appear in their conversation—it also shakes up their present. Nora tells her husband about a childhood friend she had 20 years ago. Before their connection could blossom further, they got separated when Nora’s family left Korea. Arthur acknowledges the weight of this past, and even jokes, “In the story, I would be the evil white American husband standing in the way of destiny.”
When Nora finally reunites with Hae Sung (Teo Yoo of “Decision to Leave”)—now the adult version of her childhood friend—in New York, there’s an instant familiarity and comfort. To make matters more complicated, we find out that Hae Sung has been ruminating on an alternative reality of them: “If you had never left Seoul, would I still have looked for you? Would we have dated? Broken up? Gotten married?”
Will Nora and Hae Sung’s history create a crack in Nora’s marriage? Will anyone get the closure they need? Where will the childhood friends’ catch-up sessions lead to? Are we all being too fixated on the concept of “fate”? It doesn’t help that Cat Power’s cover of “Stay” by Rihanna is playing in the background.
We’re overthinking through this, but we’re definitely seated for some tear-jerker. Folks who saw it at Sundance already declared it as one of 2023’s best films—so we’ll wait for that premiere date.
Still from “Past Lives” trailer