January 25, 2023

‘Past Lives’ Is a Sundance Marvel — and the First Great Film of 2023

Celine Song’s feature directorial debut is a stunning, pitch-perfect romantic drama about two young Korean kindred spirits torn apart by the hands of fate.

by Marlow Stern via Rolling Stone

The 2020 Sundance  Film Festival proved to be the last major movie event before Covid-19 knocked the Earth off its axis. More than merely washing the bad taste of Cats out of our mouths, the fest — which ran from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 — showcased a plethora of exciting (sorta) independent films and emerging talents. Audiences took in stirring documentaries like Dick Johnson Is Dead and Boys State, breakout turns from Aubrey Plaza (Black Bear) and Taylour Paige (Zola), and future awards-hopefuls Promising Young Woman and Never Rarely Sometimes Always. But one film stood out among the pack, a finely etched immigrant saga capturing a Korean family adapting to life in the American South: Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari. After taking home Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, Chung’s film would go on to receive six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

This year marked the first in-person Sundance since the pandemic hit. And the film that’s risen to the fore is, again, an autobiographical tale of a Korean chasing their American dream while reconciling the past with the present.