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PAST LIVES

"Love for Another Life"

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What You Need To Know:

PAST LIVES is a romance about a girl named Na Young. Na Young and her childhood friend Hae Sung build a deep relationship. However, Na Young and her family emigrate from South Korea to Canada, then the United States. Na Young changes her name to Nora, pursues writing and forgets her childhood friend. More than 20 years later, they reunite and reflect on how much and how little each of them has changed. Perhaps, they were really meant for each other in a different life?

PAST LIVES is a subtle, slow-burning story about love, friendship and fate. The performances from the two leads are engaging, and the cinematography is beautiful. There’s a brief moral message about dying to yourself for the sake of staying faithful in a relationship. Sadly, these positive issues are marred by the central theme, which is the Buddhist belief in past lives and reincarnation. At first, there’s a question whether reincarnation is real, but the movie ends with it being the only possible answer. Despite its polish and beauty, PAST LIVES touts false, abhorrent religious beliefs.

Content:

(FRFRFR, B, L, S, AA, D, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong false religious elements, the movie forms its central message around the Buddhist belief that we all have past lives and are reincarnated, but there are some moral elements stressing friendship and perseverance, and the movie does champion staying faithful in a marriage despite personal desires

Foul Language:
Brief, strong foul language, both the “f” word and a “b” word are said in Korean once, and an “s” word is said in English

Violence:
No violence

Sex:
No sex scenes, but there’s a mention of “sleeping together” and a married couple are in bed, but they are clothed and are having a conversation

Nudity:
No nudity Alcohol Use/Abuse: Several scenes drinking at restaurants and bars, in two scenes, a group of teenagers get drunk together

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Brief cigarette smoking but no drugs; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
The movie’s theme of reincarnation leads to the implication of an immoral view of morality (if you were meant for another person not your spouse in another life through reincarnation, then morality is not objective, rationally consistent and transcendent).

More Detail:

PAST LIVES is a romantic drama about childhood friends who, more than 20 years later, have an opportunity to reunite in New York City. PAST LIVES is a subtle romance about friendship, love and providence, but it’s marred by its deep roots in the false Buddhist belief of reincarnation, which is contrary to Truth as well as subjective, rationally inconsistent, immoral, and ultimately unsatisfying because it lacks ultimate transcendence.

The movie starts in Seoul, South Korea as a young girl, Na Young, walks home with her best friend from school, Hae Sung. Hae Sung walks Na Young home after school every day, and they begin to form a special bond. When Na Young’s mother asks her daughter if she likes anyone, she says Hae Sung.

However, what could have been of their young relationship is never fully seen after Na Young and her family emigrate from South Korea to Canada. Na Young changes her name to an English name, Nora, and she does not hear from her childhood friend for 12 years.

After 12 years, Nora is living her dream as an author in New York. As a joke, she tries to find her childhood friend and discovers he’s been trying to find her on Facebook.

Nora reaches out to Hae Sung and learns he’s still in South Korea, doing his military service. He tells her he plans to learn Mandarin in China. Despite talking over Skype calls constantly, Nora decides to cut communication with Hae Sung as she goes on a writer’s retreat.

Another 12 years pass, and Nora is now married to a man named Arthur, whom she met on the writer’s retreat. They moved in together and got married early to get Nora a green card. One day, she learns that Hae Sung plans to visit New York on vacation. Having been married for seven years, Nora is hesitant on how reuniting with her childhood friend will go.

PAST LIVES is a subtle, slow-burning story about love, friendship, and providence. The performances from the two leads are engaging and the cinematography is beautiful. It also has a brief moral message about dying to yourself for the sake of staying faithful in a relationship. Sadly, these positives are marred by the central theme of the movie, which is the Buddhist belief of past lives and reincarnation. At first, there is a question whether the belief is real, but the movie ends with the belief in reincarnation being the only possible answer. Reincarnation is not only false theologically. It is also false ethically and, by extension, logically. For example, if you were meant for another person not your spouse in another life through reincarnation, then morality is not objective, rationally consistent and transcendent.

Thus, despite its polish and subtle beauty, PAST LIVES touts false religious beliefs in an abhorrent way.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.