'Beyond Lives' assessment: Celine Tune's transcendent debut is destined to be one of the exceptional films of 2023

On paper, "Past Lives" may sound like a diasporic riff on a Richard Linklater romance, one that condenses the entire "before" trilogy into the span of a single film.

In practice, however, this web-smooth love story forgoes almost entirely any kind of "baby, you're gonna lock that plane out" drama in search of uncovering some more ineffable

Which is not to suggest that that song's palpably autobiographical debut doesn't elicit any conventional "who's he going to cast?" cliffhanger by the time it ends,

Here's a romance that unfolds with the mournful resignation of the Leonard Cohen tune that inspires Nora's English call; it's a film less interested in tempting her heroine with

“the one she was given” than it is far from her in allowing her to reconcile with the version of herself he kept for her as a memory of her while she was gone.

As we see in the first act of this fluid but uncompromisingly linear film, Nora's family makes the decision to leave Seoul while she is still a child, and that decision

it has rusted when she reconnects with Hae Sung via Skype in the 1920s. Her traditional Koreanness becomes a foreign object to her. Now, it's more effective not that it's a form of display itself

But she's not fooled into questioning that Arthur will eventually reveal himself as the "bad white American husband who stands in the way of fate

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