Of all the films to have debuted in 2023, few have been greeted with a more rapturous reception than Past Lives.


Writer/director Celine Song's debut feature, which tells of two South Korean childhood sweethearts who reconnect in New York many years later, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January before opening in US cinemas in June.

It now finally arrives on this side of the Atlantic on a wave of strong early Oscar buzz – and speaking to RadioTimes.com earlier in the summer, Song admitted she's found the reaction so far extremely gratifying.

"There's a part of it where, as a filmmaker, what I love best is when they talk about the craft of the film and things like that," she said. "That, of course, is really wonderful for my vanity!"

But she said that ultimately the most pleasing thing to her is when viewers have connected to the film on a more personal, emotional level.

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"At the end of the day, the thing that really moves me every time is when the audience sort of lets the story get under their skin and lets it become a part of their lives," she explained.

"And then lets it be a kind of like... you know, a part of the language they have. For example, nothing moves me more than when an audience member weeks after having seen it is still using the word 'inyeon' as a part of their lives.

"And they talk about it as 'now I can't think of any connection without thinking about inyeon'. So, any kind of, like, actual, meaningful impact that the movie has."

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Inyeon is a Korean concept with no direct English translation that plays a pivotal role in the film – referring to the small connections that tie people together over many lives.

And Song explained that it was the perfect word to describe the "ineffable" relationship between the film's main characters.

"If you think about the two principal characters in the film, Hae Sung and Nora, who they are to each other is actually... it can't just be kind of boiled down to one word," she said

"Like, they're not really exes, because they only held hands as children. And they're not really friends, because I think friends talk more regularly than they do. And, of course, even throughout their lives, as you see in the movie, who they are to each other changes.

"So I think, because of that, there was no way to really describe who they are to each other, except for this word that I know, having grown up a little bit in Korean culture."

Past Lives is in UK cinemas from Friday 8th September 2023. Check out more of our Film and Drama coverage, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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