“Past Lives” opens with a shot of the three main characters at a bar in New York.
Two other patrons guess how the trio know each other, setting up a love story drawing on the Korean concept of “inyeon,” or how people end up in each other’s lives.
That scene re-creates a moment from director Celine Song’s life that inspired her to make the film, her first feature, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews.
The Korean-Canadian director recounts visiting a bar with her American husband and a childhood sweetheart from Korea.
As Nora explains to Arthur before their first kiss, inyeon is the idea that when two people brush against each other in a crowd, that’s the culmination of events that have taken place over thousands of years.