Celine Song’s directorial debut spirits of the past It’s been the talk of movie lovers and critics alike since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2023. After premiering in January, the film debuted in Los Angeles and New York City several months later, in June 2023, and audiences were buzzing when it came out. The film stars Greta Lee as a Korean immigrant to Canada. Her family decided to emigrate to Canada when she was young, and in order to do so, Nora must leave behind her first love, Hae-sung (Teo-yu), in South Korea. Years later, she moved to New York City and attempted to establish a career as a playwright, having moved on from her life in Korea.

However, fate is a funny concept, and she ends up reconnecting with Hae-sung. Although the two get along very well even through Skype and video chats, Nora breaks things off to focus on her career, and ends up getting married. More years have passed, but when Hae-sung makes the decision to come to New York City and ask to meet Nora, some things seem to have not changed. spirits of the past It’s a great movie to see in a theater and much needed in today’s world – here’s why.

Slow down and think what if

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One of the core concepts behind spirits of the past He is a Korean one. Nora, when hitting on her husband at a writing retreat, mentions the Korean word inyeon. It is basically a form of destiny that people are supposed to meet in this life, continuing a cycle from their past lives. It could be a piece of cloth rubbing against each other as they pass on the street, or a more intimate conversation—that’s inyeon. Therefore, when Hae-sung returns to Nora’s life after so many years, the question becomes what will happen next.

Then, Nora must come to terms with the decisions she made, especially as her husband brings up a slight insecurity that he might not be enough for her in the end, especially since Hae-sung is now in town. He thinks he can’t compete with her first love, and they need to reaffirm their feelings for each other before this leads to their marriage undoing. In life, some people can easily get consumed by what’s going on in a situation, and in spirits of the pastEnding, there is still no real closure for the two of them. In fact, one could interpret this ending as open.

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spirits of the past It is for those who like to chew on the philosophical connections between people, situations and places. One of the more obvious aspects of slowing down is the passage of time throughout the film; It begins when Hae-sung and Nora are children, still at their local school, and ends over a decade later. The movie dances between Korean and English dialogue, and the vast majority of its action happens through conversation. A thousand words in acting can easily be seen though, as there is an incredible amount of tension between Hae-sung and Nora when they appear together on screen. But they still take their time to move through the scenes, enjoying each other’s presence while it lasts.

Emotional lessons in simplicity

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spirits of the past It is not intended to be a visual roller coaster throughout; The cinematography is exquisite and subtle as the film progresses through the scenes. When Hae-sung heads off to study abroad in Shanghai, depressed because Nora finished things for the first time, the world of Shanghai is dark, neon-lit. The juxtaposition of the Asian cities in the film – Seoul and Shanghai – and New York City quite literally means the emotional and mental divide between the two. At one point, Nora mentions how she only speaks Korean with her mother anymore, yet Hae-sung shows that she struggles greatly with English when she is in New York.

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Sometimes, when it comes to the kinds of movies that we as viewers consume, we don’t need all the flashy extras. There’s just too much to tell simply with great direction and acting, and the world simply doesn’t need a lot of flashy stuff for certain kinds of stories. spirits of the past Endearing not only because so much can relate to the subject matter he’s about throughout the film, but also how he manages to capture the mundane in such a beautiful way. Although this reunion took a decade, Nora and Hye Sung remain humble, preferring to take photos of Hye Sung at Dumbo’s Brooklyn Bridge Park.

At the end of the day, one can say that art reflects real life. spirits of the pastAlthough some viewers may not be able to relate to the specific cultural elements unique to the Korean Peninsula, it is a reminder of what we have lost and what we gain in leaving others and places behind. Inyeon may be a Korean word, but it’s a simple conclusion many people can draw when they have a sense of deja vu, or feel comfortable settling into a routine with someone they haven’t seen in months or years. It’s these kinds of movies that we desperately need to remind us of the broader lessons of what it means to be human, and the possibilities that come with such self-exploration.


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