Celine Song Explains the Heartbreaking Final Scene of ‘Past Lives’: ‘Somebody is Grieving a Part of Themselves They Never Got to Grieve’

“Past Lives” writer and director Celine Song handles the delicate themes of love and destiny surrounding the Korean Buddhist concept of In-Yun — the connection, fate and destiny of two people. However, the South Korean/Canadian playwright says she had her own “revelation” while making her directorial debut.

“It’s a movie about these revelations about this one woman who over the course of her life,” she tells Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast. “It felt really special to me, because I was also having a revelation of my own: I’m a filmmaker, which I didn’t know until I started making this movie.”

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On this episode of the Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, we talk to the writer and director and discuss her experience making the love story “Past Lives.” In addition, we speak with her star, Greta Lee, about how she initially lost the role of Nora and what the film has meant to her acting career. Listen below:

“Past Lives” tells the story of Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sunt (Teo Yoo), two childhood friends who reunite 20 years after Nora’s family immigrated to the U.S. Now as adults, they wrestle with their unresolved connection and what it means for their destiny.

In the final moments of the romantic drama, Nora takes a slow-paced walk back to her apartment, crying and falling into the arms of her husband, Arthur (John Magaro). “What can you do in that situation where somebody is grieving?” Song asks. “Grieving a part of themselves they never got to grieve? What’s amazing for Arthur is that he gets to see his wife as a ‘cry baby,’ which at one point he says, he doesn’t know about her. What an amazing thing that he got what he wanted: To meet his wife as a 12-year-old kid.”

As for star Greta Lee, she came in for an interview with Variety back in June before the beginning of the SAG-AFTRA strike. The actor, currently seen in Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show,” is laidback and so charismatic.

In “Past Lives,” Lee’s performance is one of the best of the year’s first half (arguably, even all of 2023), igniting passion by audiences and awards enthusiasts who want to see her nominated for best actress. Lee’s inclusion would follow the historic win of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Michelle Yeoh, who became the first Asian and second woman of color (after Halle Berry for 2001’s “Monster’s Ball”) to take home the prize. Lee’s sensitive and commanding presence is just as worthy.

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.

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