There is a Korean expression that soon we will probably all be talking about (or some of us, which should not be exaggerated): inyeon. «It means providence or destiny. But it is specifically about relationships between people.”the protagonist of the film explains to her North American partner. Past Lives, born in Korea, but emigrated first to Canada and then to the United States. The idea of both the character and, in short, the film itself is to highlight how all human interactions are in some way predestined. Gestures as slight as a polite greeting on a bus may (or may not) lead to relationships as essential as love itself. Be attentive to any contact, no matter how insubstantial and arbitrary it may seem – would be the moral -, because everything has consequences. It is on this almost McGuffin-like concept (of a false herring or enigma that distracts the viewer from the main plot so that the surprise effect is more effective), on which Celine Song organizes what is his surprising and highly praised film debut after a decade dedicated to theater.
«In reality», the director herself now explains, «everything was born from a very specific moment. Suddenly, I became aware that my life, despite its insignificance among so many others, acquired an almost epic dimension. Celine Song does not suffer an attack of megalomania, but rather she simply sets out to remember the moment in which one day he found himself in a bar in New York between his childhood friend (perhaps a lover of an existence that never happened) and his current partner. The first came to visit from a distant past. The second was nothing more than pure present. And she in the middle, trapped in a kind of unresolved time loop, as a translator between a life that was not in Korean and a life that at that very moment was being in English. That circumstance was what motivated the film, she confesses, and that is, consequently, the first sequence of Past Lives. It’s all this inyeon? Could be. “The truth is I saw myself as the protagonist of an excessive story spanning continents and many decades. And I think that if we think about it a little, we could all be in a similar situation. All our lives are epic», he states.
Perhaps for this reason, because of the ease with which the film manages between the disproportionate, because it is universal, and the trivial, because it is unique and concrete, the truth is that since its premiere at Sundance at the beginning of the year and its subsequent presentation at the Berlinale , Past Lives has only gained followers until it has become one of the favorite films of the season and with an exceptional place in all the predictions for the Oscars. «I am flattered by what has happened and it surprises me. I want to believe that success, so to speak, has to do with my attempted reclamation of a common experience: how time moves through our lives. We’ve all been 16, we’ll never be 16 again, and yet the person we were when we were 16 is still alive and with us. And that person deserves to be recognized as real. For me that is the essence of the film », he says.
Indeed, the film, which basically narrates a reunion and how that reunion causes the world to branch into each of the abandoned possibilities (in what could have been and was not), has a lot of recusal of the present. Halfway through a compressed version of Linklater’s trilogy Before… and a rereading of Lost in translation, Past Lives The cinematographic experience is presented as an essentially shared exercise and very far from the solipsistic game of omnipresent screens. “What all these years of theater have taught me,” she reflects, “is the audience’s patience for silence. What is relevant is not so much what is said as everything that makes up the story. and that, in some way, is also the heritage of the spectators. It doesn’t matter the time, the language… we all love the same. Silent”. Maybe it’s that or, why not, the inyeon the one who summons us before the prodigy of Past Lives.